Monday, January 3, 2011

Bon Voyage & Aventure Malgache

Title: Bon Voyage
Year: 1944
Studio: Welwyn Studios
Screenplay: Angus McPhail & J.O.C. Orton
Running Time: 26 minutes
A black & white picture

Monday 3rd January, 9:30am
Today is the last day of my holiday and I have that slightly sick feeling in my stomach (you know the one, we've all experienced it.)
Thankfully, the task of doing this blog today was a reasonably brief one. Both films are short and there is very little information on them so it allows me to be brief. I will get back into the full swing of things next weekend, I am sure.
I made myself a mug of tea and grabbed the biscuit barrel (diet recommences tomorrow, so I had to finish off the chocolate biscuits) and watched both films - neither of which I had seen before.

There is no cast list for either of these films, but John Blythe plays Sgt. John Dougall.

It's London: 1953. Sergeant John Dougall is being questioned by a French Intelligence Officer about his escape from Germany. He tells his tale starting from his arrival in Reims. His ally, Stefan Godowski, helped him escape and they make their way across country together. In Reims, they receive word that one of them must go to the local cafe and give a specific signal. Stefan goes and returns with further instructions but has somehow gained an injury. He explains he came across a Vichy spy whom he had to kill. The two men agree that it would be best to go back and dispose of the body. When they do, the body is gone and there are two Resistance members at the crime scene. They tell the duo to take a specific route to a farm where they will find two bicycles for them to continue their journey. There are further instructions attached to the bikes.
After staying at a hotel and meeting a female Resistance member on a train, they are soon whisked off to her father's home and they decide via poker dice who should take the one seat on the plane to England. John wins but Stefan asks him to take some mail to a personal friend.
Then, we learn the truth. The Intelligence Officer tells John how Stefan was in fact a German spy and had orchestrated the whole thing and use John as a carrier pigeon for his codes.
You can't trust anyone these days...

Great Lines
This one is hard to appreciate without experiencing the accents involved.

The two Resistance members ask John about his heritage;

John: "Scottish... R.A.F."

Female Resistance member: "Pardon?"

Male Resistance member: "That's how the English say 'R.A.F.'"

As you can imagine, much more entertaining with the different pronunciations.

Hitchcock has nipped back from Hollywood, reasonably reluctantly, to film these two shorts as part of the war effort. He was also having to visit the graves of loved ones and witness the destruction of his home country's capital.
Both films were produced with the best intentions, but neither were shown and were shelved.

The flashback technique is nicely handled but the whole 'But this is what really happened...' is even better.

My favourite Hitchcockian moment in this film has to be when Stefan kills the Vichy spy in the wine cellar. Beautifully lit and brilliantly dramatic - it certainly shows signs of Hitch's fondness for 'silent' film.
Another classic moment is when Jeanne is shot by Stefan (My, he's a nasty piece of work, isn't he!?) - As he holds the telephone receiver near her face with one hand and shoots her with the gun in his other, she dies and falls out of shot, leaving the receiver aloft. It's a very effective image.

My Verdict
This was rather entertaining and breezy in its storytelling. I was genuinely surprised. 6/10


Title: Aventure Malgache
Year: 1944
Studio: Welwyn Studios
Screenplay: Angus McPhail & Jules Francois Clermont
Source Material: Apparently based on a true story
Running Time: 31 minutes
A black & white picture

Monday 3rd January, 10.00am
I decided I wasn't going to take notes whilst watching it as I needed to concentrate on the French subtitles (having had to pause and rewind an awful lot during the first film).
Having just enjoyed Bon Voyage, I was looking forward to Aventure Malgache... If only I'd watched it first.

As I mentioned before, no specifics as to the actors, but they were among the Moliere players.

One of the actors in a theatre group tells a story of his war experiences when a colleague's appearance reminds him of his past. As they prepare for the show in the dressing room, the story is told in flashback.
Lawyer. Nazis. Resistance. Pirate Radio. Blah, blah, blah.
Seriously, I do not have the will to write it all out.

Great Lines
None that took my fancy.

Whilst watching this I thought to myself; "Crikey, and to think I will have to sit through Topaz eventually too!"

My Verdict
ZZZZZZ! 1/10

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