Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Flesh and the Fiends

I see a new version of the Burke and Hare story titled, er, BURKE AND HARE is just out and according to the reviews its a moviemaking by numbers retelling by John Landis with those funny guys Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis - I think we can give that a miss, one can just imagine it. The version to see though - if it is still available - is the 1959 chiller THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS directed by expert John Gilling. It was part of that new series of chillers like those Hammer new versions of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy and the like. It chilled me a lot at the time being all of 13! It's in widescreen black and white and plays the story of the 19th century Edinburgh grave-robbers seriously showing the squalor of the time. Donald Pleasance (its probably his best role) and George Rose are ideal as the ruffians who supply the eminent surgeon Dr Knox (an ideally cast Peter Cushing) with a supply of newly-buried corpses for dissecting at his college. This is exploitative macabre melodrama, more than a horror film; more gruesome and horrific than other films of the terror genre.

Burke and Hare soon of course run out of bodies and decide to supply their own, killing people and selling them on to the doctor who turns a blind eye as he needs a regular supply of cadavers. His daughter June Laverick of course does not suspect .... but when local tavern girl Billie Whitelaw who has been befriended by one of the medical students, turns up as the latest body then things start to unravel for our couple, who have entered folklore. It's a brilliant cast scary movie and must be infinitely better than any comedy remake. It probably provided the template for the new one! PS: It IS available: - I have just ordered a copy!
Coming up: a lot of new movies for review and comment:

The giallo LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN with Bolkan, Sorel and Baker
The recent THE SEA WALL with Isabelle Huppert
Chabrol's LE CEREMONIE and 2 boxsets!
Costa-Gavras's THE SLEEPING CAR MURDER with Signoret, Montand and all star cast
Tom Hollander in LAWLESS HEARTTilda Swinton's I AM LOVE
Ozon's TIME TO LEAVE + boxset
Glenda (Jackson) as SARAH (Bernhardt)
2 Gerard Butlers: THE UGLY TRUTH / 300
Kim Novak as JEANNE EAGELS ('57) and Jeanne Eagels in the 1929 THE LETTER
Michael Craig and Billie Whitelaw in PAYROLL, 1961
Antonioni's LE AMICHE ('55)
Malle's LE FEU FOLLET ('63)
Belinda Lee as MESSALINAand some more Romy Schneider, Anouk Aimee, Monica Vitti films.
and some Hollywood classics I need to see/re-see: LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, UNFAITHFULLY YOURS, THE PALM BEACH STORY, and titles with Loretta Young, Margaret Sullavan, Irene Dunne, Norma Shearer and Carole Lombard.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

People We Like: Julie Harris

The last of this week's series of star appreciations - another batch soon !

An interesting comment a while back in some magazine was that we Londoners were lucky to have Maggie Smith or Judi Dench on stage here frequently, but New Yorkers were equally blessed in having Julie Harris or Geraldine Page on view. How true. Julie Harris is of course revered as one of America's leading actresses on stage and screen for over half a century, with an enduring legacy of great roles. I dare say every generation coming fresh to James Dean finds EAST OF EDEN their lodestone for romantic anguish and Cal and Abra remain one of the screen's most intense couples - as iconic as Dean and Taylor in GIANT and a perfect Kazan couple too, like Clift and Remick in WILD RIVER or Wood and Beatty in SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS.
Kazan, like Kramer, is a key director of the '50s even if his style seems overwrought or out of fashion now. Julie as Abra was 5 years older than Dean but they are such a perfect couple and her every move and gesture is so delightful. It's one of those films, like THE MISFITS, that I used to watch over and over back in those heady late teen and early twenties years when one was caught up in the early years of that Dean and Monroe cult appreciation.

Julie, born in 1925 was already an established performer by the early '50s and a very individual one too with that distinctive husky voice and mannerisms. She is amazing in Zinnemann's 1952 film THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING which she had played on Broadway (with the 9 year old Brandon de Wilde, who also reprised his role in the film). This Carson McCullers tale still resonates today. In 1955 Harris played Sally Bowles in the delightful English film I AM A CAMERA, directed by Henry Cornelius with Laurence Harvey and Shelley Winters. It's a bravura performance and this precursor of CABARET has its own delights. She was also teamed with Harvey in a 1957 British comedy THE TRUTH ABOUT WOMEN (also reviewed here), and she also played with the likes of Dirk Bogarde, Rex Harrison, Laurence Olivier and Anthony Quinn for television specials.

Julie continued alternating stage and cinema roles and also television - as detailed in her programme notes (below) from THE BELLE OF AMHERST programme which she played in London in 1977. I had not felt well the night I was going to see that but was persuaded by my companion to attend and it was such a joyful experience as both a great night in the theatre and seeing Julie perform as Emily Dickinson that I felt compelled to write and tell her by posting a note to the theatre. It must have been near the end of the year as I was pleased and touched to receive her good wishes for the new year - as per scans below, click to enlarge.

Her various other roles incuded Miss Thing in that delightful YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW, Francis Ford Coppola's first feature in 1967, that junky jazz singer in HARPER with Paul Newman and that great cast (Bacall, Leigh, Winters, Wagner etc); she was the leader of the criminal gang in the heist thriller THE SPLIT in '68, and she has kept busy in series like KNOTS LANDING and others. It is good to see her working into old age and one trusts she is recovering from illnesses. (right, with Angela Lansbury - two legends together).

Another key role for her was in the 1963 THE HAUNTING with Claire Bloom, where Julie is taken over by that haunted house.... and it was fun seeing her in the 1972 thriller HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. There is also John Huston's REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE, also by McCullers, in 1967 where she stars with Taylor and Brando in this very bizarre tale set in an army base in the deep south! It's a very prolific career by one of the great ladies of the American theatre and a much-loved iconic film actress and star.

Friday, 29 October 2010

People We Like: Claire Bloom

It may be ungallant to mention a lady's age, but in her late '70s its great to see Claire Bloom still acting, cropping up on television shows like DR WHO, THE BILL and NEW TRICKS (where she is an actress who shoots her husband on stage with a real gun). She was also on stage a few years ago, but I missed that.

Claire of course has had an extensive career as star and leading actress since the early '50s when Chaplin chose her for LIMELIGHT lauching her on an illustrous career. Other roles followed in films like Carol Reed's THE MAN BETWEEN in '53 where she and James Mason are ideal together, RICHARD III with Olivier, where she is a compelling Lady Anne, with Richard Burton in ALEXANDER THE GREAT and LOOK BACK IN ANGER and THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. She and Burton were in fact lovers for some time during their years with the Old Vic.
She was also with Brynner in THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV fo MGM in 1958 and THE BUCCANEER where she is an engaging lady pirate.

She delivers a powerhouse performance as the nymphomaniac in Cukor's THE CHAPMAN REPORT in 1962 and she said in a radio interview recently that Cukor was the best director she worked with.

I saw her on stage in 1974 in a highly acclaimed London production of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE as a blonde Blanche. She also said in that radio interview that Blanche is the hardest role for women - comparable to Hamlet or King Lear! Programme notes below (click to enlarge):

Her two films with then husband Rod Steiger, THE ILLUSTRATED MAN in 1969 and THREE INTO TWO WON'T GO are interesting late 60s oddities now. Wise's THE HAUNTING in 1963 is another key role for her (as a slinky lesbian) as she and Julie Harris grapple with that haunted house...other roles of interest include in THE OUTRAGE with Newman and Harvey in '64, Iris Mudoch's A SEVERED HEAD in '70, Lady Marchmain in the original classic series BRIDSHEAD REVISITED and as Merle Oberon's Indian mother in the fun tv series QUEENIE! Other films include 80,000 SUSPECTS and ISLANDS IN THE STREAM and Woody Allen's CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS.

She was also a terrific Nora in the 1973 film of A DOLL'S HOUSE, made at the same time as Losey's version with Jane Fonda. It would seem that Bloom's version won hands down in a standard telling of the play, which she also successfully played on stage.

Its good to see Claire still performing. She is one of the survivors of that great generation of British actresses [like Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, Glynis Johns] who had success in England and then in Hollywood as well as maintaining links with the theatre and then television. Her revealing autobiography is a fascinating read on her life in the theatre and cinema and those difficult husbands (including a disastrous marraige to writer Philip Roth) and lovers (who included Olivier, Brynner, Anthony Quinn)! Burton though did say that she had been the love of his life ...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

People We Like: Michael Craig

England’s forgotten leading man? Decades before Daniel there was another Craig – that personable leading man Michael Craig – who had a good career in English movies of the ’50s and early ‘60s. His biography illustrates the chequered careers people had back then. Born in India (where his father was in the army) in 1928 and moved to Canada when aged 3 he was back in England by the late 40s and working in the theatre. He secured a Rank Organisation contract and began a good run in movies initially being groomed as a new Dirk Bogarde – Craig plays support to Bogarde in the 1957 CAMPBELL’S KINGDOM.

Other roles of the time included EYEWITNESS, HIGH TIDE AT NOON, a good war adventure SEA OF SAND in 1958, the faithless lover who gets a bullet in YIELD TO THE NIGHT, a tense crime thriller PAYROLL, a Police inspector in the thriller SAPPHIRE, THE SILENT ENEMY, with Belinda Lee in the African romance NOR THE MOON BY NIGHT, plus studio fodder like LIFE IN EMERGENCY WARD 10 and the quite funny UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS (where he has a very funny sequence with Joan Sims), and an airport drama CONE OF SILENCE.

He co-wrote THE ANGRY SILENCE in 1960, one of those strong dramas of the time. co-starring with Attenborough, and MYSTERIOUS ISLAND with Joan Greenwood is a jolly good 1961 version of the Jules Verne classic which still gets played a lot today. There were other leading roles like stepping into Bogarde’s shoes for DOCTOR IN LOVE, and another good drama LIFE FOR RUTH in 1962.

Craig also did a lot of television and theatre (left), and a good leading role was opposite Susan Hayward in STOLEN HOURS in ’63, and co-starring with Claudia Cardinale (who had a small part in his UPSTAIRS AND DOWNSTAIRS) in Visconti’s intense drama SANDRA (or OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS or VAGHE STELLE DELL ORSA) in 1965 [which I have already written about here, as it was a pleasure to finally see it again recently]. He co-starrred in LIFE AT THE TOP and had a supporting role in Losey’s MODESTY BLAISE where he is fun trying to unzip Monica Vitti in that cat suit!

With Cardinale and Jean Sorel in Visconti's SANDRA (OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS) in 1965:

Then a prize leading stage role which I saw in 1966 (when I was new in London): opposite that new star Barbra Streisand in the London production of FUNNY GIRL – where he is an ideal Nicky Arnstein. His programme page is below (click to enlarge):

He then went on work with Julie Andrews as one of her suitors in STAR!, that 1968 box office disaster which was enjoyable for all the wrong reasons. He was in the film of that great stage play I enjoyed at the OId Vic: THE ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN in 1969 and lots more television roles including that laughable series TRIANGLE which really was so bad it was good and had a cult following! but working actors keep working: Losey and Visconti one year, an Amicus horror compendium the next; there was of course that new crowd to compete with - Alan Bates seemed to be getting all the choice parts... [Bogarde, More, Todd etc were all in the same boat, with Dirk heading off to Europe.]

Australia beckoned for Craig with movies like THE IRISHMAN in 1978. Michael still resides there and is more or less retired now but still works in items like MARY BRYANT in 2005.

Most personable young actors starting out get 10 good years if they are lucky and then continue in lesser parts, and Michael certainly had a decent career at that interesting time from the mid-‘50s to the mid-‘60s working with a lot of my favourite people. It's always a pleasure to see him. Below: STOLEN HOURS with Hayward.
Next: Claire Bloom, Julie Harris, Glynis Johns, Flora Robson, Billie Whitelaw, Trevor Howard, Anita Ekberg, Stephen Boyd, Alan Bates, Peter Finch, maybe even Laurence Harvey.
Previous: David Hemmings, Stewart Granger, Michael Redgrave, Genevieve Bujold, Kay Kendall, Joan Greenwood, Gladys Cooper, Capucine, Romy Schneider, Anouk Aimee, Francoise Dorleac, Lilli Palmer, Alida Valli, Silvana Mangano, Ingrid Thulin, Stanley Baker, Belinda Lee, Dolores Gray, Janet Leigh, Jeffrey Hunter, Jean Sorel, Vittorio De Sica etc. as per labels.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Stanley Baker: Britain's tough guy

Stanley Baker [1928 – 1976] is perhaps too little known now, having died at the young age of 49, but he was one of England’s more interesting leading men of the 1950s before branching into international cinema of the 60s and 70s. His place in the hierarchy is rather unusual – being the polar opposite of typical English leading men like Dirk Bogarde, Kenneth More, Richard Todd or Jack Hawkins. He did though go into production (ZULU being his biggest hit) and was knighted in 1976.

Equally home playing villains, where his angular, taut features could be very useful, he was often cast in the 50s in war films and also featured in several biblical epics where he was often glowering in the background, as well as several police dramas and efficient thrillers, and also in several interesting European films before scoring big with his production of ZULU. Like Bogarde's, Baker's is one of the most prolific careers in English cinema; he too co-starred with a lot of those European ladies: Moreau, Vitti, Aimee, Seberg and also did 4 films for Losey.

Being Welsh of course he was a contemporary of Richard Burton – indeed the two Welsh young actors began together on the stage, but by the early 50s Burton was on his way to Hollywood. Baker’s early parts included roles in CAPTAIN HORATIO HORNBLOWER in 1951, THE CRUEL SEA and THE RED BERET (both 1953) and as Morded in THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE. HELL BELOW ZERO features him as one of his early villians opposite Alan Ladd in the frozen wastes of Pinewood in this Hammond Innes adventure.

THE GOOD DIE YOUNG also in 1954 is an enjoyable, effective thriller where he, Richard Basehart and John Ireland are the gang led by Laurence Harvey in a heist movie which of course unravels – Margaret Leighton, Gloria Graham and a young Joan Collins watch from the sidelines and its efficiently directed by Lewis Gilbert.

He is the Earl of Richmond in Olivier’s RICHARD III and Achilles in Robert Wise’s very enjoyable HELEN OF TROY (’56) and Attalus in Rossen’s turgid ALEXANDER THE GREAT where Burton is an increasingly tiresome Alexander – essential though for those who like these 50s epics.

There was a television Mr Rochester in JANE EYRE, and he is good in another war film A HILL IN KOREA in 1956, and he has the lead in an engrossing motor racing drama CHECKPOINT with Anthony Steele.

HELL DRIVERS in 1957 is his first with director Cy Endfield and is a tough thriller with ex-con Baker joining a team of truck drivers – the fascinating cast of the time includes Patrick McGoohan, Herbert Lom, plus a young Sean Connery just starting out, and Sid James as a truck driver. [This was also interesting to see again recently and is also available as a 2 disk dvd with lots of extras, interviews with Baker, Endfield etc. Interestingly, future stars Connery, McGoohan and Robert Shaw  got early starts in Baker movies].

Sid is also on truck driver duties in the following one, CAMPBELL’S KINDOM, also 1957, one of my favourite Rank Organisation movies, from a Hammond Innes novel set in the Canadian rockies [but filmed in the Italian dolomites] where Stanley (aged all of 28) is the cartoon villain trying to do winsome Dirk Bogarde (then at the height of his “idol of the odeons” matinee idol status) out of his oil well inheritance. I enjoyed this as a kid, and still do now. Michael Craig, Barbara Murray and James Robertson Justice are sterling support. It may be movie-making by numbers but it works.

VIOLENT PLAYGROUND in 1958 finds him as a police detective on the trail of some juvenile delinquents, co-starring Anne Heywood. I have not seen SEA FURY, also in ’58 and with director Cy Endfield, a tough sea adventure. Robert Aldrich’s THE ANGRY HILLS in 1959 sees him co-starring with Robert Mitchum and the ill-fated Gia Scala, in this drama set in Greece during the war.

JET STORM also in 1959 is a delightfully dated airline drama with an all star cast of the time with Baker as the pilot and Richard Attenborough as the man with the bomb. Also on board are pop star Marty Wilde, Mai Zetterling, Sybil Thorndike, Elizabeth Sellars, Virginia Maskell, Diane Cilento and Harry Secombe!

Joseph Losey now featured Baker in two tense thrillers. BLIND DATE in 1959 is perfect with Baker as the detective, Hardy Kruger as the man on suspicion of murder, and Micheline Prestle as the mystery woman. This is followed by THE CRIMINAL in 1960, a very tough study of a mobster, Johnny Bannion (Baker), coping with life in prison. Its billed as: “the toughest film ever made in Britain” (well, until SCUM I dare say…) and features Jill Bennett among others. Its an under-rated Losey and deserves to be better known.

Another terrific British crime thriller is Val Guest’s HELL IS A CITY in 1960. The city is Manchester and Baker is the inspector on the trail of mobster John Crawford. Billie Whitelaw and Donald Pleasance are among the sterling support, as is typical bad girl Vanda Godsell. This could be the prototype for tv series such as Z-CARS which followed in the 60s and 70s.

Stanley is then among those scaling those GUNS OF NAVARONE one of the big hits of 1961 and a perennial action staple.

This is followed by another esoteric Losey feature, EVA – which has been too long unseen. Baker is the author being destructively obsessed about Jeanne Moreau in one of her best roles, and its all very Losey (2 versions of EVA are now available as a dvd: the cut released version and fuller Losey version). Another crime caper followed, A PRIZE OF ARMS in 1962, with Tom Bell, about a robbery on an army camp.

SODOM AND GOMORRAH is a prize entry in the biblical stakes in 1962 and it was a pleasure to finally see it last year. This is by Robert Aldrich – just before he went on to BABY JANE ! – and is probably the silliest, campest biblical of all. Stanley glowers as the brother of lesbian queen Anouk Aimee, as Lot (Stewart Granger in those side-whiskers!) leads his tribe to their promised land. Euro-starlet Scilla Gabel pouts, Helen of Troy herself (Rosanna Podesta) is one of the daughters, and a rather lack-lustre Pier Angeli as Lot’s wife gets turned into that pillar of salt as Sodom is wiped out by what looks like a nuclear bomb. Don’t know what happened to Gomorrah though ….

IN THE FRENCH STYLE is a charming entry in the American Girl in Paris stakes by Robert Parrish in 1963, from an Irwin Shaw story. Jean Seberg is quite charming here going from naïve young girl to sophisticated woman of affairs before giving it all up for domesticity with an American doctor (played by one of my favourite writers James Leo Herlihy, author of All Fall Down and Midnight Cowboy, among others). Stanley is one of her lovers so cue lots of meetings at airports and a decadent party that prefigures the one in DARLING.

ZULU was the big one in 1964, with Stanley as one of the producers and Cy Endfield directing – Joe Levine ensured it was a major hit, and this battle of Rorke’s Drift is still wowing them today. Great music (John Barry), great cast led by Stanley, and great excitement.

More African adventures in 1965 included DINGAKA and SANDS OF THE KALAHARI, another Baker-Endfield production, with Susannah York, Stuart Whitman and the ever dependable Harry Andrews. Stanley was also doing various television roles around this time, before another crime caper ROBBERY in 1967 by Peter Yates so expect some exciting chase sequences.

Then came Stanley’s 4th Losey film, the enduring ACCIDENT, where he is re-teamed with Bogarde (10 years after their Canadian adventure) as the Oxford dons competing over the very blank European aristocrat Jacqueline Sassard (Romy Schneider was meant to do this role and would have made her a real sexual tease). It’s a Harold Pinter script effortlessly directed by Losey with a terrific cast including young Michael York, Vivien Merchant, Alexander Knox and a silent Delphine Seyrig. Perhaps too arthouse for some, but a considerable success and now one of the key movies of the 60s.

Then followed another interesting European one, presumably destined for home consumption in Italy, as it never surfaced in the UK, but I did catch up with it last year: GIRL WITH A PISTOL a comedy drama by Mario Monicelli in 1968 stars Monica Vitti (in a frightful black wig) as a Sicilian peasant woman dishonoured by her man, so she follows him to London with, yes, a gun. This isn’t the Swinging London of the time but a downbeat look at other London and Brighton locations – Stanley pops up as a doctor and at one stage takes Monica into that famous gay (then) pub The Salisbury (which was the pub used in VICTIM).

Some titles followed which I did not see: a period piece with Tommy Steele: WHERE’S JACK? and a routine war film THE LAST GRENADE. Also unseen was a Michael Winner film in 1970, THE GAMES which now sounds interesting in retrospect. Featuring athletes assembling for the Olympics it stars marathon runners Ryan O’Neal (the American), Charles Aznavour as a Czech!, Michael Crawford as the English runner with a more than demanding coach – Baker at his heaviest – as well as an Aborigine. This one may be worth tracking down now, if only for any unintentional hilarity !

Also in 1970 was Peter Hall’s crime caper comedy PERFECT FRIDAY where David Warner and Ursula Andress are the rich couple on their uppers and Stanley as their bank manager who hits on a plan to rob the bank, but needs their assistance, so it comes down to a who trusts who? Its an enjoyable movie of its time, enlivened by some publicity shots featured prominently at the time of a nude Ursula and Stanley.

Another one to catch up with now would be A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN from 1971 with the intriguing casting of Florinda Balkan and Jean Sorel, in one of those giallo thrillers. (I have since seen this and it certanly ramps up the thrills and gore).

I saw him opening a garden fete around this time, in the early 70s, somewhere in Battersea. After some more unseen films came some BBC serials: ROBINSON CRUSOE in 1974 and HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY in 1975 with Sian Phillips and a great Welsh cast, a project which must have been close to him.

However he had now contracted lung cancer. Like contemporaries Stephen Boyd and Laurence Harvey he died too young while still in his 40s. Unlike Burton he did have an enduring marriage and was probably a happier man. He was knighted in 1976 and would have surely have continued producing and acting. Its quite a legacy though of enduring roles. Three cheers for Stanley.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

People We Like: Belinda Lee: England's lost siren

Belinda Lee (1935-1961) was a stunning blonde in the Anita Ekberg or Diana Dors mould who flourished briefly in the mid-'50s with the English Rank Organisation, and then became a star in Europe in the emerging sword-and-sandal Italian movies, and then it was all over in 1961 in her mid-20s when she was killed in an automobile accident in the USA. Too much too soon perhaps?
A stunning beauty while still in her teens, she started out as cheesecake with lots of glamor photos and playing with Benny Hill in WHO DONE IT? and the first ST TRINIANS film in '54. She co-starred with Granger and Simmons in FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOG,, 1955, a good comedy THE BIG MONEY, a nice costume drama that I liked when I was a kid in 1957: DANGEROUS EXILE, a romantic drama set in Africa NOR THE MOON BY NIGHT in '58 with Michael Craig and Patrick McGoohan, and others like MIRACLE IN SOHO and EYEWITNESS. She was married to Cornel Lucas a studio photographer, perhaps she was too glamorous for the staid British movie market but then Europe beckoned: 1959-61 saw her kept busy as APHRODITE, MESSALINA, LUCREZIA BORGIA and in JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERN, MARIE OF THE ISLES, CONSTANTINE AND THE CROSS. There was also THE LONG NIGHT OF '43 (a wartime drama) and a French new wave LES DRAGUEURS (THE YOUNG HAVE NO MORALS). She became part of the La Dolce Vita set in Italy and had a scandalous romance with an Italian count. Her IMDB page has details of her tempestous life and that fatal accident...
Here is my review of DANGEROUS EXILE, a perfect costume drama of its type:

"DANGEROUS EXILE. One of those rather good Rank Organisation period adventures this 1957 drama features the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette who is smuggeled out of the Basteille and escapes by hot air balloon but lands on a small island near Wales. The little prince (young Richard O'Sullivan) is found and protected by local beauty Belinda Lee and her aunt dowager Martita Hunt -
there are however treacherous servants (Anne Heywood, Finlay Currie), the French in pursuit (Keith Michell) and French aristocrat Louis Jourdan also wants the boy. Its stirring stuff well handled by veteran Brian Desmond Hurst and I liked it a lot as a kid, so good to see it again. One of Belinda's best for Rank. There is a poignant moment when her character says that when she is an old woman she can tell her grand-children the King of France wanted to marry her - Belinda though did not make old age, she was killed in a car accident when only 26. She had though become one of the sword and sandal stars on the continent. This is an engrossing period story about what may have happened to the young French prince".