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.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Maggie's and Vanessa's first movies, in 1958

Venerable thespians Maggie Smith and Vanessa Redgrave both made their movie debuts, when they were promising young stage actresses, back in 1958. Its quite fascinating catching them now.

NOWHERE TO GO is a low-budget B-movie (not quite a Trash Classic) by the enterprising Seth Holt (and an ucredited Basil Dearden, according to IMDB), with a script by no less than Kenneth Tynan, featuring '50s London in crisp black and white. It stars American import George Nadar - usually wooden, but not bad here actually. Its sole point of interest now of course is that Maggie Smith walks in to it, about the half-way mark, as the rather snooty girlfriend of the guy whose apartment Nadar, a convict sprung from prison, is hiding out in. We see earlier how he cons his way into the affections of wealthy widow Bessie Love in order to get his hands on her late husband's valuable collection of coins, which he places in a safe deposit box before the law catches up with him. 
His partner in crime, Bernard Lee, turns nasty and George soon has to depend on Maggie for assistance as they leave the city and head for her family's ancestral pile in the country with its remote shepherd's hut, where he can lie low, but of course, in B-movie fashion, things fall apart and our man on the run faces a bleak end, accompanied by the appropriate jazzy music score. So, it ticks all the B-movie boxes, and I rather liked it. It does not linger too long too, all wrapped up in 85 minutes. Maggie is fascinating here, with the distinctive voice already in place. Nader (who was gay and later became an author) who was ok in AWAY ALL BOATSFOUR GIRLS IN TOWNTHE FEMALE ANIMALCARNIVAL STORY etc - see Trash label) - so its more of the same here. If there is such a genre as 'British Noir' this qualifies. 
BEHIND THE MASK, also 1958, is a solid hospital drama by the ever reliable Brian Desmond Hurst, less soapy than NO TIME FOR TEARS or LIFE IN EMERGENCY WARD TEN, it focuses on the surgeons and their problems, it doesn't quite though turn out as one imagines ...
Michael Redgrave is in his element here as the rather pompous senior surgeon, with Niall MacGinnis as his rival eager to trip him up; Tony Britton is suave new doctor whom Redgrave wants on his team and who is almost engaged to Pamela, Redgrave's daughter: a porcelain beauty Vanessa - suitably patrician and Sir Michael's real daughter making her debut here. Carl Mohner - that interesting Austrian actor - is also new to the hospital as he fights a drug problem which was have repercussions on an operation going wrong leading to the death of the patient and the subsequent investigation. 
So the story is a bit soapy, but its the cast that fascinate here: Margaret Tyzack, Joan Hickson, Ann Firbank, Lionel Jeffries, Miles Malleson, even William Roach (TV's Ken Barlow in CORONATION STREET), Ian Bannen, Brenda Bruce excellent as ever for a few minutes (as she would be the near year as the first victim of PEEPING TOM) - I didn't even catch Victor Spinetti, also listed. 
It is a hospital tale of jealously, suspicion, ambition, and features a fascinating operation sequence. This was made at that late 50s time when hospital dramas were in vogue, with EMERGENCY WARD TEN on the telly, and CARRY ON NURSE was in production.  The colours are washed out on the dvd. Apart from television work, Vanessa did not film again until MORGAN and BLOW-UP in 1966 ...

Soon: More British '50s B-movie dramas and Trash Classics like Cliff Richard singing "Living Doll" in SERIOUS CHARGE, Jayne Mansfield in THE CHALLENGE, Ava Gardner in TAM LIN, Oliver Reed in THE PARTY'S OVERTHAT KIND OF GIRL and more .... 

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