February 11th, 2008

life on mars

George beats Gene

I had trouble sitting through the first episode of Ashes to Ashes because I was itching to get back to watching a film I had recorded, Cottage To Let . I spotted this in the listings, which gave no information other than ‘black & white, Alastair Sim’. That was enough for me. I was surprised to find a black & white British wartime film I hadn’t seen before and wondered why it was not better known. Apart from the wonderful Alastair Sim, who amazes me every time I see him by his apparently effortless scene stealing, there is a remarkable performance from a fifteen year old George Cole. The film was directed in 1941 by Anthony Asquith and has a lot in common with Went the Day Well? (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1942) as they both deal with the enemy within. Watching these films, made before the tide of war had turned, you can appreciate the need for the ’Careless Talk Costs Lives’ campaign, so brilliantly illustrated by Fougasse.

Both these films star the actor Leslie Banks, obviously good and at the height of his career. Yet today he is hardly known, let alone a household name as I imagine Alastair Sim still is. As for George Cole, it was fascinating to see in his young self facial expressions and mannerisms which would endear him to audiences for the next sixty years. I recorded Ashes to Ashes and watched it all over again the next day, when I enjoyed it more. Gene will have to wait for a post of his own.

Unseasonably warm?

I keep hearing how warm it was in London at the weekend. Ahem, London is not the United Kingdom. We've had glorious weather here but it's absolutely freezing cold. As for the advanced spring, I don't call snowdrops and a few miniature daffodils in February early flowerers. Bah humbug.