Sunday, August 8, 2010

Elstree Calling

Title: Elstree Calling
Year: 1930
Studio: British International Pictures Ltd
Screenplay: A variety of different writers
Lyricists: Ivor Novello & Jack Strachey Parsons
Running Time: 82 minutes
A black & white film with occasional colour segments.

Sunday 8th August, 8:45am
I have had one of those very lacklustre weekends. Partly because I was still recuperating from my nasty virus but also because I had damaged my back on Friday by simply twisting the wrong way.
Over the past week, I have spent most of my time on the settee watching copious amounts of Star Trek - in this case, Star Trek: Enterprise. I find the Star Trek franchise to be wonderfully comforting when I am feeling even slightly unwell and it helps while away the hours.
I had never sat through an episode of Enterprise before because when it first aired, I was so appalled by the abhorrent theme tune, I could not bring myself to watch it - silly, judgmental fool that I am.
When I received JB Hi-Fi vouchers for my birthday and the store was having a "3 for 2" offer on a variety of TV DVD boxsets, I decided I was going to treat myself and complete my Star Trek collection. (I say 'complete' but I reserve the right to not buy the animated series - that really was poop!)
Within a matter of weeks, I watched all four seasons and was gutted by the end of it, throwing my hands up in despair at the studio's decision to axe it. Had they not bothered to watch the show? It's wonderful (maybe they too couldn't get past the theme tune - but the marvellous advent of DVD means you can skip it every time!)

Anyway, why am I blithering on about Star Trek? Well, because there's nothing much to say about Elstree Calling other than I thought I ought to watch it seeing as I had returned from the 22nd century...

Teddy Brown
Helen Burnell
Donald Calthrop
Bobbie Comber
Cicely Courtneidge
Will Fyffe
Tommy Handley
Gordon Harker
Jack Hulbert
Hannah Jones
John Longden
Ivor McLaren
Lily Morris
Nathan Shacknovsky
John Stuart
Jameson Thomas
Anna May Wong

Tommy Handley hosts "A vaudeville and revue entertainment", introducing a variety of comical sketches, songs and dance numbers, interspersed with a couple of running gags including a man trying to get his own TV working in order to watch the show (when he finally fixes it, the show is over) and Donald Calthrop trying to enthuse the audience about his forthcoming Shakespearean piece.

Hitchcock only had a hand in a couple of sketches within this parade, so he himself - and many Hitchcock scholars - did not really consider this part of his canon saying it was "...of no interest whatsoever."
However, it is interesting in a contemporary context as we see efforts made to colourise segments using the Pathecolor Stencil technique although ultimately it is unnecessary.
Hitchcock apparently directed a couple of items - the linking segments with the TV set and the Calthrop 'Shakespearean' scene. Although I am sure 'The Taming of the Shrew' did not involve a motorbike & sidecar and some custard pies - maybe it should have done... let's debate that at a later date.

My Verdict
As I say, not essentially canon and definitely not essential viewing. Bright, sparky and with a couple of highlights:
1) Lily Morris singing about being the bridesmaid and never the bride
2) a sketch in which a husband shoots his apparent wife and her lover before realising he is actually in the wrong flat and murdered two strangers.
Not a dreadful piece of entertainment, but you wouldn't be sad if you missed it. 4/10

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