Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Term of Trial (1962)

 Kindhearted, but alcoholic school teacher Graham Weir,  has a criminal record for refusing to fight in the war and consequently has been unable to move up in the world. His wife (Simone Signoret) resents their lack of money and is bitter about her life. He agrees to tutor one of his students, Shirley Taylor (Sarah Miles), despite his wife's misgivings about the girls intentions. After a school trip to Paris Shirley admits her love to Graham, but when she is rejected she accuses him of assault.

The film also stars Terence Stamp (!!) as the naughty Mitchell who terrorises everyone. Weir and Shirley develop a friendship, based on her infatuation for him, and his affection for her-as something of a substitute for the child he was unable to have. Sometimes his actions are somewhat cringe worthy in light of the audiences knowledge of Shirley's feelings. The film also subtly critiques the role of parents in their children's lives. Shirley is ashamed of her family, and Mitchell's father obviously encourages violence. Weir wants to make a difference in the children's lives, but his own unhappy life make him oblivious to what is really going on before his eyes.

Olivier's performance is understated yet tragic. He ardently believes in justice and truth yet is put down by everyone around him. Miles as Shirley is torn between childish and adult emotions. The ending of the film is surprising, and somewhat frustrating. After an impassioned speech for his innocence Weir succeeds in getting Shirley to admit her own guilt, however upon his return home he finds his wife about to leave him. She tells him he is a coward and in a desperate attempt to continue their relationship Weir lies. He tells her he did sleep with Shirley. Using this technique he does win her back, however it is a blatant contradiction of all he has said and done during the rest of the film. Despite his wife's cruelty towards him he sacrifices his own moral standards to keep her. It does make the audience question his strength-Perhaps he is as weak as his wife states?


Friday, 9 September 2016

Some Like It Hot (1959)

Two down on their luck musicians, Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon), witness a massacre committed by the mafia and are then wanted by the gangsters. They decide to dress as women and join an all female band travelling to Miami under the guises Josephine and Daphne. On joining the band they meet Sugar 'Kane' (Marilyn Monroe), a lonely ukelele player. Joe/Josephine soon finds himself falling for her, and a wealthy millionaire finds himself falling for Jerry/Daphne. When the gangsters turn up at the hotel chaos ensues.

Some Like It Hot remains one of the best loved comedy films of all time. The AFI even voted it their top comedy film in their 100 Years…100 Laughs list. This owes much to Billy Wilder's direction but also to the impeccable timing of Lemmon. Despite the film being filled with wonderful performances Lemmon as the bubbly Jerry/Daphne is the highlight. Jerry embraces his female persona whole heartedly with his high pitched voice, bouncy way of walking, excited re-naming and giddy excitement at his engagement. It is also a brilliant performance from Monroe who looks stunning and is sweet yet world weary.

Some Like It Hot was filmed in black and white despite the increasing popularity of colour film. Supposedly this was because the makeup worn by Curtis and Lemmon made them look green! The film was well noted for its troubled production, Monroe battling a pill addiction which made her habitually late and caused her to forget her lines. Yet it is a testament to her strength and talent that she gives a wonderful performance. The film is also well remembered for the slightly risqué Orry Kelly gowns Monroe wore in a number of key scenes.

Whilst the film was a huge success it did create some controversy with some condemning it for its use of cross dressing and perceived homosexuality. It was a challenge to the censors and became instrumental in the eventual end of the Hay's Code.
Filled with witty lines, hilarious gaffes and an all star cast, Some Like It Hot, is truly a feel good film!