Cottage to Let (1941)

|

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

Arsenal Stadium Mystery, The (1939)

UK / 83 minutes / bw / D and P, G&S, GFD Dir: Thorold Dickinson Pr: Josef Somlo Scr: Thorold Dickinson, Alan Hyman, Patrick Kirwan, Donald Bull Story: Leonard Reginald Gribble Cine: Desmond Dickinson Cast: Leslie Banks, Greta Gynt, Ian McLean, Liane Linden, Anthony Bushell, Esmond Knight, Brian Worth, Richard Norris, Wyndham Goldie, Alastair MacIntyre, George Allison, Tom Whittaker, E.V.H. Emmett, Bruce Winston, Maire O’Neill.

Arsenal Stadium Mystery - 0 in rear, a sign of the times

On the wall behind, a sign of the times.

On the eve of World War II, Arsenal—the UK’s champion professional football/soccer club (and a giant of football history)—mounts a friendly charity match against gifted amateur side the Trojans, who have been scalping quite a few of the major professional teams. Most of the then Arsenal side have minor roles, and all of them play during the on-field extracts. (In those of the extracts where the opposition seems competent, the opposing team was in fact Brentford Football Club, playing against Arsenal for real in a league match.) George Allison, then the team’s manager, has a fairly central role (as himself), and for the most part fulfills it more than adequately; Tom Whittaker, the club’s trainer, and the soccer commentator E.V.H. Emmett likewise play themselves in non-negligible roles.

 

Arsenal Stadium Mystery - 1 Gwen Lee and Jack Doyce

Gwen Lee (Greta Gynt) wants to end her fair with heartless lothario Jack Doyce (Anthony Bushell).

At half-time Doyce receives a small, anonymous, gift-wrapped packet, which proves to contain Continue reading