Movie Diary 5/27/2018

Lots of movies on the UK channel Talking Pictures. Not all of them great. Here’s a few less-than-classic titles.

Floods of Fear (Charles Crichton, 1958). If you wondered what Howard Keel got up to after his musical films – and I know you did – here’s something. Keel and a seriously depraved Cyril Cusack are chain-gang prisoners who escape into a giant flood, only to get stuck with a wounded prison guard (Harry H. Corbett) in the gradually-crumbling home belonging to Anne Heywood (future co-star of The Fox). Crichton, who made The Lavender Hill Mob, does a spiritied job of keeping the various implausibilities and unpleasantries moving along, and the movie actually looks really good – the flooded soundstages are compelling, and cinematographer Christopher Challis, who cut his teeth in the Powell-Pressburger world, finds a variety of dynamic angles from which to shoot the action. Keel spends most of the picture with his shirt off, and broods very well. Okay, this one is pretty good.

Time Lock (Gerald Thomas, 1957). Despite its can’t-miss premise, this is a hilariously inept dud. A boy is locked in a time-coded bank safe that can’t be opened by normal means, so a group of bank managers, welders, and construction workers try to bash their way through the walls. Director Thomas and screenwriter Peter Rogers went on to do the Carry On series, which is scarcely funnier than this (seriously, the Airplane! guys might’ve used it for inspiration). The dialogue is made of stone, and based on a play by Arthur Hailey, who would eventually write Airport. Robert Beatty plays the most Leslie Nielsen-like of the authorities, and Sean Connery is one of the welders. It’s set in Toronto.

Sky Liner (William Berke, 1949). Did somebody say Airplane!? Here’s an early air thriller, a spy number with sleepwalking slab of beef Richard Travis as an FBI agent aboard a Constellation, trying to find the traitor in the passenger manifest. Rochelle Hudson and Steven Geray are also in there. The flight looks very comfortable, and the restroom, where a great deals happens, is roomy. Pretty terrible, but not without pleasure.

The Limping Man (Cy Endfield, credited to Charles De La Tour, 1953). Endfield had been blacklisted and was in the UK at this point. The set-up is fine, with American Lloyd Bridges visiting London to reunite with a wartime flame, Moira Lister (from Once a Jolly Swagman); she’s a wild thing, and one of the interesting touches here is how cool Bridges is with the reality that she’s lived an adventurous life in his absence. There’s murder afoot, too. There’s some lively location shooting and small roles for Rachel Roberts and Jean Marsh, the latter apparently playing a kind of proto-beatnik. Then the ending – hoo boy.

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