What a thunderously disappointing day of viewing I’ve had.
In preparation for the next month of Movie Nights, I’ve been watching possible films for my new list. Usually, there will be something I will like that I know no-one else will be able to tolerate. There may well be a few titles that my Movie Nighters will adore, but maybe I’ve seen said titles too many times already.
Today, I settled down to watch two films for next month. The first was ‘RX Murder’. I hadn’t heard of it before but I’ve recently acquired a new neighbour, a lovely man called Geoff who loves his films, especially silent screen, bit of film noir, that kind of era. I haven’t done very much of this sort of film, so when he offered to give me a copy of one of them, I jumped at it.
‘RX Murder’ was released in 1958. It’s black-and-white, little bit brooding, there’s a hint of Daphne DuMaurier about it, and it was filmed in Sidmouth, which would be a big draw for my locals who like local things.
It started out beautifully. There’s an American tourist, under an assumed name, he’s interesting and exotic because he’s American. All the English people speak with a delightfully clipped accent, very Joan Greenwood. It transpires, the local doctor has been married many, many times, and all his wives have sadly shown very little staying power, and snuffed it.
One after another.
Leaving him everything.
Naturally. They were married.
And nobody seems to have considered that the good doctor might have been offing his wives. Until this mysterious American shows up. Indeed, he is the ex-husband of one of the doctor’s late wives. Oh, but it’s a bit complicated. I was loving it. I had ideas of who would be likely to enjoy it, how to advertise it, what sort of wording to use. I was excited. And then, the disc stalled. Oh, the horror. At fifty-one minutes and seven seconds.
I don’t know if the doctor was to blame. I don’t know if he’d been framed. I don’t know if he was even a doctor. Ding, dong the disc is dead, and the only copy I can find for sale online is £17, plus postage, and it’s Region 1. Which won’t play in Europe. And that story is really going to play on my mind now.
So, I dusted myself off, and moved on to the next film.
There’s a collective who never come to Movie Night. They have been to the Club, they know where we are, and I’ve been emailing them weekly for six years. Finally, I heard back from one of them a few months ago.
There was a film out at the cinema that she and the collective would love to see. It should have rung alarm bells with me that they couldn’t find a cinema in the county that was showing it.
And yet, I soldiered on. For the last few months, I’ve run internet searches on this film. It’s going to have to remain nameless, unfair I know, but I’ll only risk upsetting people.
It would be fair to say, it’s a lousy film. Based on a true story – sounding promising, so far – it has its roots in the Second World War, therefore heavy, heartbreaking, rage-making. There’s a brilliant cast, so it’s not their fault but the writing is stilted and the incidental music puts me in mind of a schmaltzy, saccharine attempt at drama by cheap commercial television channel. It really is quite vomity.
I may be stuck with that one.
Now, there are people who say of certain films, that they’re better the second time around. That may well be the case with this one. I might love it when I am made to watch it at the Club.
Well, how nice for me.
My Movie Nighters, however, will still be on their first attempt at it. From what I know of them, they won’t like it and, even if they could, they’ll be quite upset with me. It’ll be as if I haven’t let them in on the story.
I can guarantee you now, I’m not going to like it any better on the second attempt.
So tonight – thankfully it’s a cracker. ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’. A tremendous film about a weekend in 1939, when the King and Queen visited the American President in Upstate New York to ask for American assistance in the early days of the Second World War.
I’ll point out at this juncture, I don’t usually do war films. Yes, there are two based in the War in this single blog post, but I generally avoid war films. I don’t like them. I suppose I don’t have a lot of time for a film of which I already know the ending. I love a true story, but these tend to be stories I don’t know. I feel better for having been exposed to something outside my experience, which I can – if I need to – walk away from.
When it comes to Movie Night, I do have some difficulty when we get towards Christmas. I have my own problems with Christmas, things which are rather too ache-making to get into right now, but as such, I’m not too hot on Christmas films. I’ve shown the classics, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, similar stuff. One year, I drew a total blank. Fortunately, one of the eighteen year olds came to Movie Night, and made a suggestion given my own Christmas-based angst. In my panic, I went with it, something invariably being better than nothing. I probably should have made sure before advertising it that ‘The Grinch’ was appropriate for a crowd of adults with alcohol.
Back to ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’.. I don’t think I’ve seen Olivia Colman in anything where she hasn’t been the best damn thing in it. She is exceptional in this. A wonderful film, with some cousin on cousin inappropriateness, Bill Murray and historical relevance. A must-see.
After ‘Lincoln’, one of my ladies told me she’d learnt more American history through Movie Night than anything else in her life.
Rather proud, I find myself feeling the need for period English dramas.
If I have become a history teacher, we’ll need bonnets.