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Monday, September 15, 2014


This Public Service short from WWII Great Britain is a small gem, a pocket-sized Hitchcockian thriller about a pair of tough-minded spinsters whose smart thinking stops a Nazi invasion in its tracks. (Three guaranteed shocks on a seven minute running time.)

A quick look at the credits explains much: helmed by Brian Desmond Hurst (A CHRISTMAS CAROL/’51), with a story by Thorold Dickinson (the original GASLIGHT/’40; the even better QUEEN OF SPADES/’49). You may also recognize the great eccentric Martita Hunt, playing the less courageous of the two bitties, as Miss Havisham in David Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS/’46 even if IMDb doesn’t. (They've misspelled her name ‘Marita’ so no other credits come up.) But you may not recognize the name of film editor Ralph Kemplen, a regular for John Huston (AFRICAN QUEEN/51) and Fred Zinnemann (DAY OF THE JACKAL/’73). The amount of rural/small town atmosphere, quirky narrative & suspense this choice, talented group manages to squeeze into a 7 minute running time is damn impressive. Watch it for free here: The print’s a little beat up and THE IMPERIAL MUSEUM is burnt into the middle of the image, but it just adds to the period flavor. Enjoy!

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Kudos to British Film Guide maven Leslie Halliwell who mentions this forgotten treasure in his personal memoir of growing up at the cinema SEATS IN ALL PARTS.

DOUBLE-BILL: Constance Bennett & Gracie Fields take on Nazis in Paris, but with glamour in the zippy, if not wholly successful feature MADAME PIMPERNEL (aka: PARIS UNDERGROUND)/’45.

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