prunesquallor: (movies)
2006-07-17 12:49 am
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Review: Whiskey Galore (1949)

I believe (without checking) that this is the last Ealing comedy which I hadn't seen.

It starts off slowly and rather unpromisingly. Our setting is the Outer Hebrides late in WWII; the inhabitants of the small isolated island of Todday [check] have run out of whiskey - general despondency and gloom ensue, since it seems almost everyone is seriously - but comically! - alcoholic. (Hey, they live in the Outer Hebrides. Give them a break!)

Luckily for the islanders, fate intervenes: a ship wrecks nearby, with a stranded cargo of 50,000 cases of whiskey. (Based on a real incident during the war.) They all rush out to salvage as much as their boats can carry - well, they do as soon as the Sabbath ends, just after midnight. They are Presbyterians, after all.

For the antagonist we have the martinet Captain of the Home Guard on the island. He is determined, just for the sake of the forms of things, to prevent any looting. When that fails, he's on the case to retrieve the stolen cases (as it were), and he can't comprehend why no one on the island is willing to back him up. Never mind, he'll bring in the excise men from the mainland!

In the last third the movie heats up and we have some lively chase scenes, and the Captain's concluding comeuppance is apt. We end with an ostensibly moralistic anti-alcohol voiceover, which IMdb tells me was added for the Yank release. I wonder if that's true: it seems pretty clearly a pisstake to me, and as such it works well.

Marginal thumbs up, despite the slow beginning. Good quirky islander characterizations pushed it over the top.

prunesquallor: (movies)
2006-07-13 11:14 pm
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Review: The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953)

Got another Ealing comedy from Netflix, The Titfield Thunderbolt. This one is very much in the pattern of Passport to Pimlico: plucky community of English eccentrics is thrust into an extraordinary situation.

In this case, the local passenger rail is being closed down and some of the inhabitants of the titular town decide to try running it themselves (the nationalization of railroad companies only applying to those in existence at the time the Act was passed, not to any created afterwards - this is loosely based on the actual story of the world's first heritage railway line). Of course they face various obstacles: owners of the local bus line commit intensifying acts of sabotage against them, and they have to pass a safety inspection by the Ministry of Transportation in order to get their permanent license.

In contrast to Passport, which was very loosely plotted, this one is very tightly constructed. Various incidents which I initially thought were digressions actually turned out to be necessary to properly set up the final scenes. Very little fat at all.

Although I've never been bitten by the rail enthusiast bug, the movie was successful in conveying to me what the appeal was for the characters.

Thumbs up to a pleasant little movie.

Tidbits: This was the first Ealing comedy in color (eh, colour), and Stanley Holloway is back, this time as a rich local who invests in the new company and is one of those 'hilarious drunks' you frequently see in older movies. Sigh.

prunesquallor: (literature)
2006-07-06 10:03 pm
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prunesquallor: (tv)
2006-06-04 05:57 pm
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Korgoth of Barbaria

I saw an ad for this & decided to check out the pilot last night on The Cartoon Network.

A parody of Conan the Barbarian, with just a soupcon of Thundarr (the latter only in the implication from the opening credits that the milieu may be post-apocalyptic). Very Heavy Metal-ish, full of cartoon ultraviolence and extreme sexism. Pretty amusing, though the ad I saw had the funniest bit in the whole ep.

All in all, a nice late Saturday night entertainment. I'll probably check it out again.