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The 39 Steps (1935)

“Would it be all right, me telling you, sir?”

I adore The 39 Steps - for years it was my “favourite Hitch” ~ it might still be, but I've given it a 9 because… The Lady Vanishes is coming!

There's so much to love about this film. Robert Donat is adorable and charming - and the sparkling relationship he and Madeleine Carroll build up is just lovely. The train journey is great and the chase across the moors is fun.

But it's the three crowd pieces that I think I love most:

The Theatre at the beginning is a hoot and Memory's performance is amazing ~ am I right sir? Even if he does dodge the “What causes pip in poultry question” (answer here) ~ and the way it turns to chaos after the gunshot is thrilling.

The political meeting in support of “Mr McCrocodile” is also breathtaking - I love that the audience are so energized by Hannay's speech that the fact that he's led out of the meeting in hand-cuffs doesn't seem to phase them at all!

And the final sequence in The London Palladium is also convincingly exciting and it always amazes that Hitch can make an inevitability (that Hannay will be vindicated) so tense and exciting - and again, Memory's performace is key to this.

There's very little not to love about this film — “I'm glad it's off my mind, at last.”

Watched: 2017-07-22
Source: DVD
Rating: 9/10

Am I right sir?

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The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

We last watched The Man Who Knew Too Much in 2004, and I remember liking it more than this time. I still enjoyed the film but somehow the rather inconsistent tone and the occasionally rushed and sometimes lacklustre pace made it seem harder work than I remember.

Lovely to see Nova Pilbeam's appearance - we named a cat after her but it wasn't because of this film but the next Hitch film she turns up in. Leslie Banks is invariably good value and Edna Best was underused but came good in the end. Peter Lorre's villain is clearly so obviously villainous that at one point it's impossible to comprehend that he's believed by a bobby, over the charming, bumbling "Uncle Clive".

The Albert Hall sequence set up some good tension initially but had lost some of its momentum by the time of the assasination attempt. The final shoot-out was just plain bonkers.

Nova Pilbeam, Leslie Banks and Edna Best

Watched: 2017-07-01
Source: DVD
Rating: 6/10

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A couple of weekends back Hazel and I spent a weekend in Cardiff for the lovely Wales Goes Pop! festival - the whole thing was a joy, but here's a few particularly good bits …

Deerful

Deerful at Wales Goes Pop!

Lovely to see Emma again, she makes beautiful music, has a lovely voice, and does charming and funny between songs banter - there's nothing not to love about Deerful!

The Gate

The venue is a lovely former church beautifully converted into an arts centre. The main performance space was the former gallery of the church, with the original pews around three sides. Underneath was a cafe and the second stage. Given that we were to spend so much of the weekend here it was a treat.

2017-04-15-19-38-48-827

Milgi

Milgi is a restaurant it's in this list because it was a stone's throw from the venue and it had lovely and imaginative vegetarian food served in a comfortable envinronment, by friendly people.

It was so good we went there three times!

Milgi

Everyone else

Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws at Wales Goes Pop!

Girl Ray

Girl Ray at Wales Goes Pop!

Lorna

Lorna at Wales Goes Pop!

Rogue Jones

Rogue Jones at Wales Goes Pop!

Gulp

Gulp at Wales Goes Pop!

The Just Joans

The Just Joans at Wales Goes Pop!

… and everyone else.

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Waltzes From Vienna (1934)

So, this had Hitch behind the camera. It had The Blue Danube. It had the lovely Jessie Matthews, looking sweet. It had the always wonderful Edmund Gwenn. All these ingredients can surely produce a cracker?

Nope. Because it had a rubbish story, a tired yarn based around the idea that any two women in a film must be jealous of each other - that a young man must be incapable of defending himself from the wiles of an older woman who has influence, and that the older woman will always try to ensnare the younger man just because she can.

All of which is, of course, stupid and so no amount of Hitch, music, sweetness and Edmund Gwenn can save this film.

Sweet Jessie Matthews

Watched: 2017-04-28
Source: DVD
Rating: 4/10

So I prefer the remake - here's my fave clip from it being shown with a live orchestra

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Wimbledon stadium

Next weekend Greyhound racing will end in London, probably (hopefully) for ever. Last weekend, and contrary to so much of what I see as right, Hazel, Adam and I went to the dogs.

Plough Lane
Memorial to a former football ground

I don't like or approve of dog racing (or for that matter gambling) but did see this as the end of a part of London's past, and for that reason I thought we should go for one last time (I had been a few times in my less enlightened past), to see the end of an institution. Adam asked if I'd have rushed off so eagerly to the last public execution! Maybe.

The last dog racing in London will happen at The Wimbledon Stadium ~ across The Wandle from the former home of Wimbledon FC, and a place I spent a great chunk of my growing up - between 1980 and 1991. Once the dogs have gone, AFC Wimbledon (different name, same club as far as I'm concerned) will be (fingers crossed) coming home to a new stadium built on the site.

Wimbledon Stadium is a sprawling, ugly mess of a place, it has no charm, and no beauty - no gorgeous neon welcome.

We arrived and I dragged my family around the housing estate where the football ground once was, and then we headed into the dog stadium. There was a queue - maybe because of curious people like us.

We stayed for three or four races, it's an ugly "sport" and it makes people (even us by association with it) become ugly. We photographed the end of this era and left, not sad to see it go, and feeling a little dirty at having done it.

2017-03-11: Wimbledon Stadium

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