Sheila Birling: [about the girl who committed suicide by drinking disinfectant] Was she pretty?

Inspector Goole: She wasn't very pretty when I saw her last in the infirmary.

         An Inspector Calls (1954)
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July Issue

Classic Film

Old Blighty

In July, we are showing three British films so it's a good opportunity to take a closer look at the industry and what has made them so good over a long period of time. And then in the middle of the month we're screening another Howard Hawks screwball comedy in denham lane.

So in this issue of the eZine we will be taking a look at British film in the 50's and 60's, paying tribute to our good friend and our first ever screening guest Paul Cox who sadly passed away recently, and looking at the Screwball Comedy genre

And don't forget to check out more of the details about this month's screenings (including our cafe screenings) by clicking the links at the bottom

We hope you enjoy this month's eZine.
Paul Cox (1940 - 2016)
Iconic Independent Australian Director Paul Cox
Paul Cox was the first guest presenter we welcomed in 2014. By the time we crossed paths with Paul he had already made 30 films (6 shorts, 2 documentaries, 1 TV episode and 21 features), had received 41 award nominations for 16 wins,  and had forged a strong international reputation.

in spite of his great achievements he remained a very humble man, and someone who maintained a passion for film his entire life... both as a filmmaker and as a film-goer.
Innocence (2000) - one of the most beautiful love stories ever made
Paul attracted the biggest audience we ever had and the audience simply loved him... for his humour, his intellect and his great compassion for the human condition.

There are no words that can capture the essence of the man or the great contribution he made to film in australia and Internationally.

It was always worth giving Paul the last word. So that it what we're going to do here.

In 2011 Paul allowed himself to be filmed during his struggle with Liver cancer. Below are a number of excerpts from that film where Paul shares his thoughts on a variety of topics.

They are well worth watching
Paul Cox on the Human Condition
Paul Cox on Art
Paul Cox on Death
Paul Cox on Filmmaking
Paul was one of the world's most original and unique filmmakers. He had a great eye and was a detailed observer of human behaviour, and he made films about little things... no car chases, no explosions, no gun violence, no special effects.

He told stories about the kind of people the world ignored or forgot
, and in the process created some memorable screen moments and created some unforgettable characters.

This final video is close to an hour long, but it is worth watching. Cox made you think and smile... frequently.

He'll be missed.
An Evening with Paul Cox
Paul Cox interview
British Film in the 1950's

During the Fifties the two major British cinema chains had embarked on a programme of cinema closures. The Rank Organisation closed 79 of its cinemas in 1956 and Associated British Picture Corporation closed 65 a year later. In 1951, cinema admissions had stood at 1,365 million in Britain; by 1960, the figure was down to 500 million.

The decline in attendance was accompanied, in many eyes, by a decline in standard. After the creative energy of the late 1940s (often seen as a Golden Age), British films had become to some observers timid, complacent, and as conservative as the country's politics. Lindsay Anderson (director of This Sporting Life - screened in 2014) described British cinema of this time as 'snobbish, emotionally inhibited, wilfully blind to the conditions of the present, dedicated to an out-of-date, exhausted national idea.'  Karel Reisz (Director of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning - screening this month) who launched the 'Free Cinema' movement in 1956, attempted to give a documentary immediacy to its observation of young people and working-class life. Reisz and Anderson emerged as key directors of the so-called 'British New Wave'.

The most popular genre of the time was the British war film - The Cruel Sea (d. Charles Frend, 1953), The Dam Busters (d. Michael Anderson, 1955), Reach for the Sky (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1956), and Sink the Bismarck! (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1960), The Bridge on the River Kwai (d. David Lean, 1957).

Critics were sometimes dismayed by this trend, seeing it as a nostalgic wallow in former national greatness during a time of uncertainty about Britain's international role. 

The other popular genre was comedy, which brought new talents such as Norman Wisdom and Peter Sellers to the screen, and also spawned a number of successful series. Three enduring classics emerged from Ealing Studios - Charles Crichton's The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and two from Alexander Mackendrick, The Man in the White Suit (1951) and The Ladykillers (1955), all featuring Britain's finest actor-star of the time, Alec Guinness. However, Ealing ceased production in 1958, and its understated comedy was ultimately displaced in public affection by the exuberant coarseness of the Carry On films, whose popularity hit their peak with Carry On Nurse (1959).

At that time Hammer was the studio that became best know for its British horror. High profile productions included The Curse of Frankenstein (1957),  Dracula (1958), and  Night of the Demon (1957). It was also responsible for raising the profiles of actors such as Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Jules Dassin's Night and the City (1950)

Two of England's favourite sons, Alfred Hitchcock (Stage Fright, 1950) and Charlie Chaplin (A King in New York, 1957) returned to make films here. Blacklisted Hollywood director Jules Dassin came to England to make a striking film noir, Night and the City (1950) before settling in Europe. Two other American directors (also blacklisted during the McCarthyist era for their political affiliations), Joseph Losey and Cy Endfield, came to England and settled, making stylish and energetic low-budget thrillers during this decade before achieving full artistic maturity in the 1960s. Even Walt Disney produced royalist English sagas such as The Sword and the Rose (1952), directed by one of the stalwarts of British cinema, Ken Annakin.

While it is true that some of the great British directors (Carol Reed, Robert Hamer, Alberto Cavalcanti, Thorold Dickinson, Alexander Mackendrick) declined or departed during this time, and that some of the finest young stars (James Mason, Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger, Jean Simmons) migrated to Hollywood, interesting work continued to be done. The literary tradition flourished in works such as  The Browning Version (1951), which contained arguably Michael Redgrave's finest screen performance, and in Laurence Olivier's Richard III (1955).

Actors such as Dirk Bogarde and Stanley Baker either launched or consolidated their craft and actresses such as Diana Dors, Yvonne Mitchell and a young Hayley Mills were also impressive.  It is worth noting that 1959 finished with an extraordinary statistic. The top twelve box-office films in Britain were all actually made in Britain - something never since repeated and now almost inconceivable.

A great resource for information on the history of British cinema is the BFI website
Screwball Comedies

The screwball comedy is a very popular variation of the romantic comedy that emerged in the 1930's. Although the leading characters adhered to the basic values of polite society, they were frequently irreverent toward the rich, big business, small town life, government, and assorted other sacred cows, including the institution of marriage. Among the unorthodox notions that these movies advocated were the ones that marriage could be fun, that women and men were created equal, and that being bright and articulate was not necessarily a handicap for a woman.

From the early 1930s to the mid-1940s, well over 200 screwball films were produced, almost all of them dedicated to the celebration of eccentric, unconventional behavior and attitudes and the proposition that life could be a lot of fun in spite of war and a fouled-up economy. These movies frequently offered smart, savvy reinterpretations of classics such as Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, and, most especially, Cinderella. Although the plots always dealt with romance, the focal couple might also find themselves involved, while trying to pursue the path of true love, with kidnapping, election campaigns, scandals, runaway leopards, shipwreck, amnesia, divorce, murder, seeming adultery, and all sorts of impersonations.While many actors and actresses tried their hands at screwball, there were several who were particularly adept including women such as Rosalind Russell, Carole Lombard, Jean Arthur, Claudette Colbert, Myrna Loy, and Irene Dunne. Among males, Cary Grant, Joel McCrea, Melvyn Douglas, Fred MacMurray, and William Powell were standouts.

Beyond the leads, great character actors were also a critical factor. Some of the best included Alice Brady, Charlie Ruggles, Eugene Pallette, Eve Arden, Mischa Auer, Una Merkel, Robert Benchley, William Demerest, Franklin Pangborn, Billie Burke, and Luis Alberni. Ralph Bellamy was the ablest portrayer of an essential screwball movie type: the attractive but flawed suitor who is never going to win the leading lady.

Movies with most of the essential screwball ingredients started to show up on the screen in 1932, notably Trouble in Paradise. The following year saw such films as Bombshell, which featured Jean Harlow, aided by the energetic Lee Tracy, in a very funny burlesque version of what looked a lot like her own life as a movie star. Things picked up even more in 1934. The most important screwball comedy was Frank Capra's It Happened One Night, which we screened at Tor's Drive In in Charters Towers last year.  The film swept the Oscars and put Columbia Pictures firmly in the screwball business for the rest of the decade. Also released in 1934 was The Thin Man, adapted from the Dashiell Hammett novel and briskly directed by W.S. Van Dyke. Extremely appealing as the wisecracking husband-and-wife detective team,

A moderately successful Broadway playwright before going to Hollywood, Preston Sturges started writing comedy screenplays in the mid-1930s. His adaptation of The Good Fairy changed the Ferenc Molnar play completely, turning it into an effective screwball comedy set in Vienna. Sturges' Easy Living came out in 1937, with Mitchell Leisen directing another cockeyed Cinderella story.

Finally in 1940, Paramount Pictures offered Sturges the opportunity to direct and he proceeded to turn out an impressive string of successful comedies at a rapid rate. They included The Great McGinty, with Brian Donlevy, The Lady Eve, with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda, The Palm Beach Story, with McCrea and Colbert, Sullivan's Travels, with McCrea and Lake, and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, with Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton. Sturges gathered around him a group of gifted comedy actors who appeared in nearly every one of his films. These included Greig, Demerest, Pangborn, Raymond Walburn, Al Bridge, and Eric Blore.

Great moments from Screwball Comedies

Mitchell Leisen, working with various writers, provided a string of other screwball comedies. Among them were Hands Across the Table, with Lombard, MacMurray, and Bellamy - as the fellow who does not get the girl - and Take a Letter, Darling, with MacMurray as a very reluctant male secretary to Rosalind Russell. He also directed, with a script by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, the quintessential screwball Cinderella movie of the period, Midnight.

On the long list of other screwball comedies many others stand out. They include Nothing Sacred, with Lombard, Connolly, and Fredric March; My Man Godfrey, with Lombard and William Powell; Bringing Up Baby, with Katharine Hepburn and Grant; Bachelor Mother, with Ginger Rogers and David Niven; Ninotchka, with Melvyn Douglas and, of all people, Greta Garbo; His Girl Friday, with Grant and Russell; The Major and the Minor, with Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland - the first film directed by Billy Wilder; and The More the Merrier, with Arthur, McCrea and Charles Coburn. While attempts have been made in most subsequent decades to revive the genre, for the most part the best screwball comedies remain the ones made more than 60 years ago.

For more information on screwball comedies go to this very comprehensive website

Screening at School of Arts

Friday, 1st of July

7.00pm start

An Inspector Calls (1954)

When a young girl is found dead an inspector is sent to investigate a prosperous Yorkshire household. It emerges that each member of the family has a guilty secret - each one is partly responsible for her death.

Crime/Drama/Mystery     Rated:PG        80 min
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Screening at Hoi Polloi Cafe

Saturday, 16th of July

7.00pm start

His Girl Friday (1940)

A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.

Comedy/Drama/Romance     Rated:G        92 min
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Screening at School of arts

Saturday, 2nd of July

7.00pm start

Saturday night and Sunday morning (1960)

A rebellious, hard-living factory worker juggles relationships with two women, one of whom is married to another man but pregnant with his child.

Drama/Romance  Rated: M     89 mins
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Screening at Cafe Nova

Sunday, 24th of July

7.00pm start

Mandy (1952)

Mandy Garland was born deaf and has been mute for all of her life. Her parents believe she is able to speak if she can only be taught and enroll her with a special teacher.

Drama       Rated:G        93 min
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