Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {School For Scoundrels}

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This 1959 movie was based on a series of published "lectures" by Stephen Potter on the art of Oneupmanship or how to be one-up on the other fellow at all times. I really ought to write up a post on Mr. Potter's books. Someone remind me to do that. The film is really a series of sketches demonstrating the technique of oneupmanship and applying it so that you are a lifeman as opposed to a loser.
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Ian Carmichael plays Our Hero: Henry Palfrey. Poor Henry is a loser and a failure at life. He is one of those people who is constantly one-down as opposed to one-up.
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Then something happens. He runs into the Heroine named April Smith (Janette Scott) on the bus and asks her out. Yay for Henry!
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This is the office and employees that Henry inherited from his uncle. Look at that, no electronics and whirling machines, just a telephone and a typewriter but it seems to function just as well without computers and crackberries.
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Ol' Whatshisface is Henry's by the book chief clerk. They have agreed that Henry should not make any major decisions without consulting him first, especially after the last incident.
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What the man-about-town is wearing this season: school tie, cuff links, signet ring and a phone heavy enough to be a murder weapon.
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What a lovely silk dress and waiting area.
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Henry trusted Whatshisface to make a reservation, but he didn't because he thought the restaurant too extravagant. And look at who the head waiter is. It's John Le Mesurier! Hell Yeah John Le Mesurier!
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Terry-Thomas is (naturally) playing the Bounder. He is naturally one-up on everyone. Terry-Thomas also has a reservation, so he graciously invites the young couple to join him.
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Providing that Henry picks up the bill.
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Terry-Thomas then invites Henry to a friendly game of tennis on the weekend, with April watching.
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Poor Henry!
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Henry decides to buy a car so that he can drive April around. Luckily he wanders into a dealership who know a sucker when they see one. You may recognize Dennis Price in the bad pin stripe from killing Sir Alec Guinness over and over again in Kind Hearts and Coronets.

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Naturally the Swift Mobile breaks down. I blame the large hood ornament.

At the Club, Terry-Thomas and Henry engage in the meanest game ever played in tennis whites.

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I love the lace detailing.
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And the Swift Mobile doesn't quite get the reaction that Henry was hoping for.
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Poor Henry!
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So Henry packs his bags and heads to Yeovil to enter the College of Lifemanship.
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The College is run by it's founder Mr. S. Potter (as brilliantly played by Alastair Sim)
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This lesson is my favourite and it teaches you how to play pool and win.
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Meanwhile, Potter's clothes become less academic and more casual.
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The courses being over, it is time for Henry to pass his exams in the real world. Such as returning a car without a receipt.
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Giving Whatshisface a new ulcer and starting him smoking again.
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Then Henry shows us how to take down a Bounder while being completely relaxed.
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And how to get anyone to drive into a brick wall in broad daylight.
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Remember when people used to carry their running shoes around on their necks.
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Henry then challenges Terry-Thomas to a rematch while in his street clothes. Shocking!!!
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Who is that fellow lurking in the shrubbery?
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Naturally Henry wins both the game and April's affections.
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And he passes with flying colours.
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He then manages to get April back to his place and into his robe in under twenty minutes.
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Meanwhile, Terry-Thomas decides to follow that lurking man and finds him buying a ticket to Yeovil.
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Will they make it back in time or will Henry stop himself from using all of the tricks that he learned at the College?

School for Scoundrels is available in Regions 1 and 2, I couldn't find out about the other Regions. Or you could download it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Blithe Spirit}

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This is David Lean's 1945 colour adaptation of Noel Coward's play Blithe Spirit. I was planning to cover Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines this week, but then I heard about Blithe Spirit and decided to cap it instead. After all, it has Noel Coward's wonderful use of language and Margaret Rutherford playing an eccentric medium on a bicycle.
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This is Charles (Rex Harrison) and Ruth. They've been married for five years and Charles' first wife, Elvira, has been dead for seven years.
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I love the jeweled neckline on her dress.
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Charles is a novelist and invites the Doctor and his wife over for dinner. He also invites Madame Arcati over to perform a seance so that he can get some atmosphere for his new book and possibly expose her as a fake. Don't you just love her velvet and lace dress.
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Madame Arcati goes into a trance and Charles starts hearing a voice that no one else can hear.
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But then Madame Arcati faints, the lights turn on and Charles can't believe that he heard a voice. After all, she is a phoney. Right?
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Well, at least Madame Arcati is convinced that something did happen, even if everyone else is laughing behind her back.
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Meanwhile, look who's dropped by for an after seance drink. It's Elvira.
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Check out the huge pearl ring and the buttons on Ruth's sleeves.
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Charles however is quite shocked to see his dead wife by the bar.
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Particularly since he is the only one who can see and hear Elvira. Maybe he's going mad.
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Elvira meanwhile, is insisting that Charles summoned her from the Other Side and decides to hang around for a while since she doesn't like what Ruth has done with the house.
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Really Charles, how can you sit there in your paisley tie and tell that you weren't drunk and rude to me last night.
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Because I wasn't drunk Ruth, Elvira appeared last night and I was talking to her.
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The argument continues over lunch.
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Meanwhile, Charles spends the whole day looking over his shoulder waiting for Elvira to show up.
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Finally, Ruth decides to humour Charles in case he is going mad.
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However, Charles counters by asking Elvira to carry the bowl of tulips around the room to convince Ruth that she's here.
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So Ruth goes to see Madame Arcati.
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Check out the Joan Crawford shoulders and the print's nice too.
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However, Madame Arcati doesn't think that she'll be able to send Elvira back, but she'll keep looking.
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Charles, however, is quite amused at the prospect of having both of his wives around.
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Love this dress, mostly for the shoulders. Aren't decorative shoulders in at the moment?
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Ruth goes to London to see if she can find a medium there to send Elvira back and when she returns, she find that Elvira has injured everyone in the house.
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Why is it that whenever cooks or maids storm out of the house with their bags packed, they've always got a ratty fur slung around their shoulders?
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Ruth decides to tell Charles the truth. That Elvira is trying to kill him and she's driving down to Madame Arcati's to see if she's made any progress.
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However, Elvira was expecting Charles to drive the car and she sabotaged it.
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After being haunted by Ruth, Elvira decides that she wants to go back.
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Madame Arcati thinks that she's figured out a way involving salt and flowers.
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No, she just summoned Ruth to see Charles.
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Now that he's haunted by both his wives, Madame Arcati and Charles go back to his place to try every trick and seance in the book.
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So, does Madame Arcati succeed or is Charles going to have to live with both of his wives until he dies?
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The film is available on Region 2 and is available as part of a multi Region DVD The David Lean Collection. It's also available as an "alternative" free download, which actually downloads quite quickly (just Google it, I forget which site it's on). If you get this version, you have to play it in VLC and select the second track under audio.

Here is the original trailer: