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Secret Agent (1936)

Argh! I was supposed to write these little updates directly after seeing the film… but it's been months since we sat down to watch Secret Agent and we can't move on until the posts have been written - and Hitch's true golden period is on the horizon!

I enjoyed Secret Agent, it deosn't have as much charm or wit as The 39 Steps, but it has a silly enjoyable yarn. Gielgud is fine, and while he doesn't have the fizz with Madeleine Carroll that Donat had, it still works well enough for me (I think Hazel disagrees).

And another fab train crash to finish the film - maybe better delivered than that in Number 17, but nowhere near as much fun!

  • Watched: 2017-10 (that's a guess)
  • Source: DVD
  • Rating: 6/10

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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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