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  1. #26
    Various Artist's Avatar
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    Another vote here for A Matter of Life and Death. It's a sublime combination of romance, war film and a rather absurd fantasy flick, which somehow works as brilliantly as the decision to alternate between earthbound scenes in full Technicolor and those in 'the Other World' in monochrome. Much as with AdeC's comments on the Lang film above, its vision of heaven and its workings is magnificently surreal – the fact that David Niven's lead character survives his technically fatal aircrash due to a sort of celestial bureaucratic cockup is a lovely opening gambit. Niven is just fantastic in the lead role.

    Speaking of war films, Went The Day Well? is a masterclass is low-key tension: from its title down, it evokes the stiff-upper-lip spirit but summons serious questions about just what it would've been like had Hitler's army succeeded in infiltrating and taking over a quiet English village and how the locals would've responded, like some black and white Red Dawn, as it were. And it has Thora Hird sniping Nazis with a rifle and keeping score like Gimli and Legolas.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ursus arctos View Post
    I'm really sorry I missed that. I'll try and track it down

  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Various Artist View Post
    Another vote here for A Matter of Life and Death. It's a sublime combination of romance, war film and a rather absurd fantasy flick, which somehow works as brilliantly as the decision to alternate between earthbound scenes in full Technicolor and those in 'the Other World' in monochrome. Much as with AdeC's comments on the Lang film above, its vision of heaven and its workings is magnificently surreal – the fact that David Niven's lead character survives his technically fatal aircrash due to a sort of celestial bureaucratic cockup is a lovely opening gambit. Niven is just fantastic in the lead role.

    Speaking of war films, Went The Day Well? is a masterclass is low-key tension: from its title down, it evokes the stiff-upper-lip spirit but summons serious questions about just what it would've been like had Hitler's army succeeded in infiltrating and taking over a quiet English village and how the locals would've responded, like some black and white Red Dawn, as it were. And it has Thora Hird sniping Nazis with a rifle and keeping score like Gimli and Legolas.
    It Happened Here is another excellent counter-factual, this time with the Nazis succeeding in conquering Britain. It’s no budget and shot as if a real documentary in 60s occcupied Britain. The Nazi English are played by real (former, apparently) London Fascists of the mid 60s, which is a bit disconcerting. Apart from the deus ex America ending, it’s bleak as fuck cinema verité from a slip in time and space.
    Last edited by Lang Spoon; 13-03-2018 at 23:20.

  4. #29
    Pérou Flaquettes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by G-Man View Post
    Oh, and Double Indemnity. Another perfect film. The film every thriller since has aspired to be.
    Seconded. Saw it on TV last year, absolutely terrific.

  5. #30
    Amor de Cosmos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lang Spoon View Post
    It Happened Here is another excellent counter-factual, this time with the Nazis succeeding in conquering Britain. It’s no budget and shot as if a real documentary in 60s occcupied Britain. The Nazi English are played by real (former, apparently) London Fascists of the mid 60s, which is a bit disconcerting. Apart from the deus ex America ending, it’s bleak as fuck cinema verité from a slip in time and space.
    Argh. Surely it can't be old, I remember its original release! It is excellent though. Made over eight years by an (originally) teen-age Kevin Brownlow — who went on to become a first-rate film historian specialising in early Hollywood. It created quite a storm, mainly generated by Little Englander types who refused to believe that anyone born British could possibly be a collaborator (despite a overwhelming evidence to the contrary.)

  6. #31
    Lang Spoon's Avatar
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    Sure Jersey was all cricket and Allo Allo japes in Torygraph world.

  7. #32
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    Not only the Channel Islanders though, who — given the influx of 20,000 German troops — could not really be expected to have behaved much differently (though many did, down to printing coded messages on postage stamps.) But there were also British SS groups fighting in Russia, who volunteered to be there.

  8. #33
    Lang Spoon's Avatar
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    I’m not sure I really feel 60s films like Medium Cool as “vintage” or anything yet. I wasn’t born till after Jaws, but I still don’t consider 60s/70s comes to be “old” like the stagey acting and direction of before. Though Netflix obviously does. Old to me meant the usually awful, sometimes brilliant 30s-early 50s films channel 4 would stick on in the afternoon or two in the morning. Stumbling across His Girl Friday coming down. No better serendipity. But no one shows or stocks these films anymore on network or online media. Except the obvious Hitchcock, Jimmie Stewart at Christmas etc.

  9. #34
    Satchmo Distel's Avatar
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    I've not seen Piccadilly but I enjoyed Hitchcock's Blackmail from the same year. Sabotage, from 1936, is another Hitchcock gem. I think Notorious is his best US film but I enjoy just about anything by him up to and including Psycho.

  10. #35
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    Most of the directors who cut their teeth in the silents — who would include Hitchcock, Lang and many more — are worth watching, because they knew how to tell a story primarily in images. They, and their cinematographers, also understood how to light a scene, or a face, or a cardboard box for that matter. A skill that's almost vanished in modern cinema.

  11. #36
    Gregg Toland, the cinematographer on Citizen Kane, took that heritage in the early 1940s and innovated on it. He died young but the whole noir genre benefited from those innovations.

  12. #37
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    Not wanting to derail the thread, but if anyone wants a recommendation for a book on the golden era of film, you could do a lot worse than ordering the autobiography 'Magic Hour' by Jack Cardiff. He worked with Powell & Pressburger, Hitchcock, Huston - and was a pioneer of the Technicolor process in England.

    I'm off to rewatch 'Red Shoes' and 'Black Narcissus'.

    And here's a doc on his work, available on youTube:

    Last edited by Vicarious Thrillseeker; 14-03-2018 at 07:05.

  13. #38
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    “But there were also British SS groups fighting in Russia, who volunteered to be there.”

    Not to mention Daily Mail, Edward, Mrs Simpson etc etc

  14. #39
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    Not sure if anyone has really got into the Ealing Comedies yet (and apologies if they have, and these have been mentioned) but Passport to Pimlico, The Man in the White Suit and, of course, The Ladykillers are well worth your time.

  15. #40

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    Another vote here for Rear Window, A Matter of Life and Death and The Ladykillers* here too. And has anyone mentioned North By Northwest yet?

    *the Alec Guinness one obviously, although there is one good thing (Irma P Hall's performance) about the ill-advised Tom Hanks version.

    And I'm not sure if it qualifies for "old", but I saw Chinatown for the first time a couple of years ago. Holy good gravy that's a superb film, albeit deeply cynical.

  16. #41
    Pérou Flaquettes's Avatar
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    Re the German occupation of the Channel Islands. Obviously not the right thread for a debate on this topic but this is an interesting read (it certainly still is a very taboo subject in the UK, we’ve mentioned it before on OFT in debates about the necessity, however painful, to face up to our history): Nazi rule in the British Isles isn’t an alternative reality: it happened here

    I’m pasting the article because of paywall. (I don’t subscribe to the Times obvs., there are ways to circumvent their paywall, eg registering with them temporarily.)

    Of all the “what ifs” of Britain’s history, the most persistent concerns a period in the lifetimes of millions still around today. The first episode, tonight, of the television version of Len Deighton’s 1978 novel SS-GB is only the most recent example of fascination with the question: how would Britons have behaved if this country had fallen under Nazi rule?

    Yet we don’t need novelists such as Deighton or, more recently, Robert Harris (Fatherland) and CJ Sansom (Dominion), to answer a hypothetical question. The Channel Islands were occupied by the Wehrmacht from June 1940 to May 1945. Many of the facts about that occupation were made available in 1995 with the partial release of British Home Office archives 50 years after the islands’ liberation. They had originally been classified as not to be released for up to 100 years. Given their contents, that is hardly surprising.

    What they revealed was an extraordinarily friendly relationship between the British Crown’s designated authorities and the Nazi regime’s occupying force. Victor Carey, the Bailiff of Guernsey, did whatever was asked of him by the latter, punctiliously.

    For example, he offered a £25 reward for information about anyone daubing a “V” for victory (a token of resistance) “or any other sign or any word or words calculated to offend the German authorities or soldiers”. In other words, he was encouraging the island’s inhabitants to turn informer. Many did, with the result that a number of those engaged in subversive behaviour were rounded up and deported.

    An even worse fate befell the Channel Islands’ small Jewish population. The civil authorities carried out the Nazis’ request to make available the identities of all Jewish inhabitants and imposed the “Nuremberg laws”, which designated as Jewish anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent.

    The Feldkommandantur received several letters from Carey itemising whatever could be ascertained about all “the Jews on the island”. One ended: “I have the honour to report that the order which accompanied your letter was communicated to the royal court of Guernsey . . . I can assure you there will be no delay, in so far as I am concerned, in furnishing you with the information you require. I have the honour, sir, to be your obedient servant, Victor Carey.”

    This attitude flowed effortlessly down the lines of command. An American radio journalist who visited the Channel Islands during the first year of occupation broadcast: “I noticed whenever English policemen saluted German officers in the street it was done with both parties generally exchanging polite smiles . . . Everywhere I went . . . I heard only praise in the highest terms of the German soldiers’ conduct.”

    Such broadcasts caused some consternation in Whitehall, only months after Winston Churchill had himself declared the British determination to fight the Germans “on the beaches . . . we shall never surrender . . . whatever the cost may be”. The government feared the British people’s resolve could be weakened if they formed the impression that an occupying German force would behave with impeccable courtesy.

    Not to the Jews, of course. But that would hardly have been a consideration to most Britons at the time. It is a rewriting of history, now widely believed, that the reason for Britain’s declaration of war on Nazi Germany, and the great cause for which allied troops risked and gave up their lives, was that regime’s policy of persecuting and, later, exterminating the Jewish people.

    It had nothing to do with that at all. Its purpose and origin was the need to thwart a militaristic German hegemon on the European continent. Had Hitler contented himself with exterminating the Jews of Germany and Austria and kept his military within those borders, there would have been no conflict with Britain.

    And had Britain been defeated by or surrendered to the Nazis, would its Jewish population have been better protected by the civil authorities than that of the Channel Islands? There’s little reason to suppose it would have been, although I like to think that the British would not have been as disgustingly enthusiastic in rounding up the Jewish population as were the authorities in Vichy France.

    My mother’s family, readily identifiable as the Jewish owners of Britain’s largest food manufacturing business (J Lyons & Co), had — or so I was told as a child — manufactured suicide pills to take if Britain did fall to the Nazis. They were not optimistic.

    For a sense of the opinion on the streets of Britain at that time, it’s essential to read a (neglected) 1945 essay by George Orwell, Anti-semitism in Britain, in which he observed: “It is generally admitted that anti-semitism is on the increase, that it has been greatly exacerbated by the war and that humane and enlightened people are not immune to it.”

    Orwell illustrated this with several encounters from his daily life, such as: “Intelligent woman, on being offered a book dealing with anti-semitism and German atrocities: ‘Don’t show it to me, please don’t show it to me. It’ll only make me hate the Jews more than ever.’” He went on to argue: “If, as I suggest, prejudice against Jews has always been pretty widespread in England, there is no reason to think that Hitler has genuinely diminished it. He has merely caused a sharp division between the politically conscious person who realises this is not a time to throw stones at the Jews, and the unconscious person whose native anti-semitism is increased by the nervous strain of the war.”

    It was therefore quite understandable that the British war cabinet was sensitive to the Nazi propaganda line that British soldiers’ lives were being sacrificed purely “for the Jews”: this helps to explain why no special effort was made to put obstacles in the way of the Final Solution. Its stopping was a by-product of the defeat of the Nazis, not the purpose. That was fair enough: total concentration on bringing that defeat about, as quickly as possible, was the correct military strategy.

    And when that victory was won, with the Channel Islands freed, what happened to the administrators who had served their German masters so obediently? Julia Pascal, whose play Theresa is about a Jewish resident of Guernsey gassed at Auschwitz, recalls one of Victor Carey’s grandsons telling her: “At the liberation, the government didn’t know whether to hang my grandfather for treason, or knight him.” They chose the latter. With indecent haste, Carey was knighted by George VI in 1945.

    Many of the Channel Islands authorities were similarly honoured. No prosecutions were brought against those named by angry islanders as having betrayed resisters. It was politically convenient to take the view that all on the islands were victims and none collaborators. The British government knew it had abandoned the islands, and had done nothing to encourage resistance there. It was mutually beneficial to close the book and award honours all round.

    In any case, can anyone who has not been put in that position know for certain how he or she would have behaved in similar circumstances? What we do know is that Britain itself did not surrender, or sue for peace in 1940 after the fall of France.

    So the real history is still one of which this country can be proud.

  17. #42
    I'd chuck Sweet Smell of Success into the hat, too. It's a swagger of a movie with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis at the top of their games, the sharpest script, excellent photography and an Elmer Bernstein score worth having ears for. Directed by Alexander MacKendrick, who gave us The Ladykillers and - possibly another candidate for this thread - Whisky Galore.

  18. #43
    Tramp The Dirt Down's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toby Gymshorts View Post
    Not sure if anyone has really got into the Ealing Comedies yet (and apologies if they have, and these have been mentioned) but Passport to Pimlico, The Man in the White Suit and, of course, The Ladykillers are well worth your time.
    Indeed, as are The Titfield Thunderbolt, Whisky Galore! and my personal favourite British movie Hobson's Choice with Charles Laughton as Hobson and John Mills as Will Mossop.

  19. #44
    I must say that an awful lot of these old movies people talk about are a real dual edged sword. The problem is that, it's hard to watch a John Wayne movie, when you know that at the same time, across the lot, Humphrey Bogart was making a movie that wasn't awful trite, two dimensional, racist anti-historical bollocks, that will age like a fucking chocolate eclair. And I used to like John Wayne movies when I was a child.

  20. #45
    Amor de Cosmos's Avatar
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    Hang on, I'm no big fan of the Duke. But he made fourteen films with John Ford, at least three of them are chocolate eclairs that are every bit as sweet today as when they were released. Bona Fide classics in fact: (Stagecoach, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) and Wayne's exactly the right actor for the part in each of them.

    Some would add True Grit and The Sons of Katie Elder to the list too, but they're later (1960s.)
    Last edited by Amor de Cosmos; 15-03-2018 at 01:32.

  21. #46
    I'd add THE QUIET MAN to that list, it may be blarney but it's brilliantly made blarney

  22. #47
    Vicarious Thrillseeker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tramp The Dirt Down View Post
    My personal favourite British movie Hobson's Choice with Charles Laughton as Hobson and John Mills as Will Mossop.
    And a very young Prunella Scales as Vicky Hobson.

  23. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
    Hang on, I'm no big fan of the Duke. But he made fourteen films with John Ford, at least three of them are chocolate eclairs that are every bit as sweet today as when they were released. Bona Fide classics in fact: (Stagecoach, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) and Wayne's exactly the right actor for the part in each of them.

    Some would add True Grit and The Sons of Katie Elder to the list too, but they're later (1960s.)
    Stagecoach is pretty racist stuff, what with them Apache savages. If we let that be "of its time", then we must give the ghastly Gone With The Wind a free pass for its racism.

    The Searchers is not unproblematic, though the racist played by John Wayne, representative of white prejudice, is rather an anti-hero. The film is still on the side of white superiority, though. Both Ford films are, of course, brilliantly realised.

  24. #49

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    I don't believe anyone's yet mentioned:
    Singin' in the Rain.
    Night of the Hunter.
    Sunset Boulevard.

    Really there's a vast amount of excellent older movies, though I am also having problems thinking of Ghostbusters as old. I suppose this is one of those things - movies that were as old as Ghostbusters is now when it was released (ie from 1950) include the aforementioned Sunset Blvd, All About Eve (another excellent movie), Harvey, King Solomon's Mines, Rio Grande etc etc, all of which I'd have thought were old in 1984.

  25. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
    Hang on, I'm no big fan of the Duke. But he made fourteen films with John Ford, at least three of them are chocolate eclairs that are every bit as sweet today as when they were released. Bona Fide classics in fact: (Stagecoach, The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) and Wayne's exactly the right actor for the part in each of them.

    Some would add True Grit and The Sons of Katie Elder to the list too, but they're later (1960s.)
    But where are all the blacks and the Jews? Blazing saddles is pretty much the first movie to even hint that the West was full of black people and jewish people, and most people think it's a joke based on an anachronism. The problem with these movies is that no matter how well they are made, they're all awful racist nonsense, They're just red dawn or globus movies for an earlier era.

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