Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Classic Movies That Are Not Readily Available in this Country #2.5

Oh Mr Porter! (Britain-1937) This one has actually been uploaded in full on the internet in five parts on a site called, so I was able to see it, though the picture quality on the computer isn't all that great. Here is part 1. The clip below is a short characteristic scene.

The star of this movie is Will Hay, whom I had never heard of, but who is apparently still a famous comedian of this period in Britain. His two sidekicks in this movie, the bumbling half-senial old guy and the fat, oblivious-looking younger guy acted with him regularly in other films as well. This is yet another train-themed movie, a genre which seems to be particularly popular in the U.K., though many countries and systems have produced classic films centering on some aspect of the railroading life, the elements of which appear to be especially suitable for and suggestive to the cinematic imagination. I should probably watch this one again a little more closely--the speech in this comes pretty rapidly in a 1930s British colloquial style and over 80 minutes of trying to follow it against an often watery computer screen picture my concentration had moments where it lapsed; however I can see why it would be considered to have classic qualities. Much of it was filmed along abandoned rail lines in the actual English countryside (standing in for Northern Ireland), and reveals a kind of naturalistic rawness of what the country must have looked like in that general time period that I don't know that I have seen before, and which is quite fascinating in itself. I cannot say that the jokes had me rolling around on the floor, but the manner of speaking, the rapid give and take and quick-wittedness both of tongue and spirit that is written into all the characters in these kinds of films I find very interesting. There were some decent sight gags, thinking here of the multiple-telephone scene and the windmill scene.

Among the running gags at this rural station was the presence of various life farm animals, usually stolen by the fat kid, hanging around the tracks, offices, idle train cars, etc, often resulting in a scene where a farmer comes to claim the pigs he had left or was expecting to pick up at the station and cannot find just as the oblivious Will Hay is lifting a forkful of bacon up to his mouth. I am working on a longer essay about vegetarianism and current attitudes towards food in general among the enlightened classes, and I will probably have cause to refer to these scenes at some point.

This makes for a lot of tired old movie and book-rehashing posts right in a row, which is not in the main what I really want to do. I am going to come up with a few essays this fall. I have been quite busy the last couple of weeks; at any rate the readership seems to have fallen away entirely, so there is no reason not to take my time and write a few things approximating real articles.

The movie takes its title after this famous song, which I'm sure somebody will enjoy, as the internet brings the once-lost world of the British music hall into potientially every home.

No comments: