snapshot: Crack in the Mirror (1960)

US / 97 minutes / bw / Darryl F. Zanuck Productions, TCF Dir: Richard Fleischer Pr: Darryl F. Zanuck Scr: Jules Dassin, ghostwriting (because blacklisted) for Mark Canfield (i.e., Darryl F. Zanuck) Story: Drame dans un Miroir (1958) by Marcel Haedrich Cine: William Mellor Cast: Orson Welles, Juliette Gréco, Bradford Dillman, Alexander Knox, Catherine Lacey, William Lucas, Maurice Teynac, Austin Willis, Cec Linder, Eugene Deckers, Vivian Matalon, Yves Brainville, Jacques Marin, Martine Alexis, Marc Doelnitz.

Orson Welles aa Émile Hagolin.

We know from the outset that all is not well in the relationship between hard-drinking construction boss Émile Hagolin (Welles) and his mistress, Éponine Mercadier (Gréco). When she brings him his packed lunch on his latest building site, we get this:

Émile: “You’re late. Every day. I’m dying of hunger.”
Éponine: “Die.”

She has eyes only for his studly crane-driver, Robert Larnier (Dillman), who seems much enamored of her and happy enough to tolerate her two small daughters from some unspecified former relationship. The lovers murder the brutish Émile, but Continue reading

snapshot: When the Bough Breaks (1947)

UK / 78 minutes / bw / Sydney Box, Gainsborough, GFD, Rank Dir: Lawrence Huntington Pr: Betty E. Box Scr: Peter Rogers Story: Moie Charles, Herbert Victor Cine: Bryan Langley Cast: Patricia Roc, Rosamund John, Bill Owen, Brenda Bruce, Patrick Holt, Leslie Dwyer, Cavan Malone, Torin Thatcher, Catherine Lacey, Edith Sharpe, Muriel George, Jane Hylton, Noel Howlett, Sonia Holm.

Lily Gardner (Roc), recovering in hospital after the birth of her first child, Jimmy, receives the unwelcome news that her husband is a bigamist—legally Jimmy has been born out of wedlock. She decides to go it alone, reverting to her maiden name of Lily Bates, forswearing men and getting a job at a department store. There she’s befriended by scent-counter colleague Ruby Chapman (Bruce). During the day she leaves Jimmy at a childcare center, where he’s tended by rich Frances Norman (John). Eventually it all gets too much for Lily and she allows Frances and Frances’s husband Robert (Holt) to adopt the lad.

Patricia Roc as Lily Gardner/Bates, getting the bad news about her marital status.

Eight years later, though, she meets Continue reading

Cottage to Let (1941)

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Alastair Sim stars in a tale of spies and scares in wartime Scotland

vt Bombsight Stolen
UK / 86 minutes / bw / Gainsborough, Gaumont, BPC Dir: Anthony Asquith Pr: Edward Black Scr: A. de Grunwald, J.O.C. Orton Story: Cottage to Let (1939 play) by Geoffrey Kerr Cine: Jack Cox Cast: Leslie Banks, Jeanne De Casalis, Carla Lehman (i.e., Carla Lehmann), Alastair Sim, John Mills, George Cole, Michael Wilding, Frank Cellier, Muriel Aked, Wally Patch, Muriel George, Hay Petrie, Catherine Lacey.

Cottage to Let - 0 opener

A somewhat lightweight spy mystery based on a play written before the full horrors were known of what was going on in Europe; it was first staged at Wyndham’s Theatre in London in 1939–40, when opinion on the war’s wisdom was still (just) up for debate in the UK. Another sign of the piece’s date is that, in the screen adaptation, a central character even pronounces the term “Nazis” incorrectly, as “Nazzies” rather than “Natzies.”

Somewhere in Tayside, Scotland, Mrs. Barrington (De Casalis) of the big house is letting out one of the estate’s cottages; the only trouble is that, in typically scatterbrained fashion, she’s agreed to rent it to more than one tenant. Miss Fernery (Aked) is expecting to billet some evacuee children from London in it; Dr. Truscott (Petrie) is expecting to use it as an emergency hospital; while the eccentric Charles Dimble (Sim) is expecting to make it a temporary home. The latter tries to remind his new landlady of this in an exchange that has “stage play” written all over it:

Dimble: “I’m Dimble.”
Mrs. Barrington: “Oh, are you? I’m so sorry.”

Cottage to Let - 2 Dimble exercises his charm on Mrs Barrington

Dimble (Alastair Sim) exercises his native charms on Mrs. Barrington (Jeanne De Casalis).

She airily offers a compromise: Dimble can have a room in the cottage, Truscott can have the rest of it for his patients, and she’ll Continue reading