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BBC 4 Fifties British War Films: Days of Glory


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Old 01-01-2013, 23:50
Prince Monalulu
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For those who watched it earlier.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pkj2m
In the 1950s, Britain looked back on its epic war effort in films such as The Dam Busters, The Cruel Sea and The Colditz Story. However, even at the time these productions were criticised for being class-bound and living in the past.

Journalist and historian Simon Heffer argues that these films have real cinematic merit and a genuine cultural importance, that they tell us something significant not only about the 1950s Britain from which they emerged but also about what it means to be British today.
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Old 02-01-2013, 00:33
Jim Kowalski
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The Cruel Sea; seen that a few times.I found a well worn copy of the book which has more in it then the film,but the early dialogue is the same so as I started to read,I could hear Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden speaking the words which really brought the book alive.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:57
mike65
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While I have no time for Simon Heffer as a rule he proved an amiable presenter, though his fusty politics came shining through once or twice as he commented on the presumed difference in decency between the era these films were made (which he never experienced - born 1960) and the present day.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:22
ironjade
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I know one has to make allowances for its age and probable low budget but the climactic scenes of destruction in "The Dam Busters" are laughably bad. They look like they were filmed on someone's dining room table.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:54
Doghouse Riley
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I know one has to make allowances for its age and probable low budget but the climactic scenes of destruction in "The Dam Busters" are laughably bad. They look like they were filmed on someone's dining room table.
As a teenager when that film came out which I saw at the cinema, I thought the special effects were terrible.

A lot of fuss is made about the austerity in the fifties, which frankly, I never saw. Leaving school at seventeen I was able to choose between six reasonably paid jobs with prospects and having saved all my money from my "Saturday and holiday job" for a year, whilst still at grammar school, I bought my first car. My parents were working class but we were short of nothing.
Harold MacMillan said around the same time; "You've never had it so good" and I can't dispute that.
Living in south London, by the mid-fifties, I was aware there was little evidence left of bomb damage.

Conversely, I think many young people these days, despite their best efforts, have "never had it so bad."
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Old 02-01-2013, 13:28
ftv
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I know one has to make allowances for its age and probable low budget but the climactic scenes of destruction in "The Dam Busters" are laughably bad. They look like they were filmed on someone's dining room table.
The scenes of flooding the following day were actually official German newsreel - they looked quite realistic to me.I don't think anyone had heard of CGI in those days.
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Old 02-01-2013, 15:29
Jim Kowalski
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I know one has to make allowances for its age and probable low budget but the climactic scenes of destruction in "The Dam Busters" are laughably bad. They look like they were filmed on someone's dining room table.
Off the top of my head I'd guess they were...or something like that - all models,but there were some great shots of Lancs.
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Old 02-01-2013, 15:32
Verence
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I watched The Wooden Horse last night

In the real-life escape upon which that film was based one of the prisoners doing the vaulting was Carry On regular Peter Butterworth. He auditioned for a role in the film but was rejected for not looking herioc enough.

Other prisoners in the camp who went on to become famous were Talbot Rothwell who wrote a lot of the Carry Ons, Rupert Davies who played Inspector Maigret for the BBC in the 60s and Stratford Johns from Z-Cars and Softly Softly
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Old 02-01-2013, 15:48
swills
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The scenes of flooding the following day were actually official German newsreel - they looked quite realistic to me.I don't think anyone had heard of CGI in those days.
CGI...can be seen as advancement in films or a backward step! Lawrence of Arabia was obviously made pre CGI, and if CGI had been around then, would not have been such an impressive film to watch

The Dams in The Dambusters I assumed used matt photography, imposing a scene of 'raging water' over the top of a breaking dam...................still a bloody good film though, .then there is ICE COLD IN ALEX ...Brill .....and Sylvia Syms
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Old 02-01-2013, 16:04
Verence
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It could be argued that in the 50s, 60s and 70s a British war film wasn't a proper British war film if Anton Diffring wasn't playing one of the Nazis
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Old 07-01-2013, 18:37
Staffsyeoman
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CGI...can be seen as advancement in films or a backward step! Lawrence of Arabia was obviously made pre CGI, and if CGI had been around then, would not have been such an impressive film to watch

The Dams in The Dambusters I assumed used matt photography, imposing a scene of 'raging water' over the top of a breaking dam...................still a bloody good film though, .then there is ICE COLD IN ALEX ...Brill .....and Sylvia Syms
Laughably bad? For 1955? That's why it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Effects. Of course it looks hokey now - you've had 55 years of progress. Oh, and by the way. The bad black blobs for the bombs was because in 1955, UPKEEP was still classified SECRET.

I thought Heffer over-egged it in places, but it was honest of him to point out that the films were being derided at the time. I just can't agree with his view of the status of Dunkirk though - it is very, very creaky.
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Old 07-01-2013, 19:09
Doghouse Riley
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CGI...can be seen as advancement in films or a backward step! Lawrence of Arabia was obviously made pre CGI, and if CGI had been around then, would not have been such an impressive film to watch

The Dams in The Dambusters I assumed used matt photography, imposing a scene of 'raging water' over the top of a breaking dam...................still a bloody good film though, .then there is ICE COLD IN ALEX ...Brill .....and Sylvia Syms
She's told the story of the Carlesbergs before in another documentary. Or some of this is old footage.

She certainly was a looker in her day.
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Old 07-01-2013, 19:26
Rodney McKay
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The Cruel Sea; seen that a few times.I found a well worn copy of the book which has more in it then the film,but the early dialogue is the same so as I started to read,I could hear Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden speaking the words which really brought the book alive.
The British war films of the 50's have much more realism and quality to them than the gung ho dross Hollywood churned out.
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Old 07-01-2013, 19:27
Rodney McKay
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She's told the story of the Carlesbergs before in another documentary. Or some of this is old footage.

She certainly was a looker in her day.
Watch Ice Cold in Alex with a few cold ones in the fridge, on a warm day wait till the end and pour one with them. Trust me it's worth it! You can get pretty much the same glasses as well.
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Old 07-01-2013, 19:29
Rodney McKay
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Off the top of my head I'd guess they were...or something like that - all models,but there were some great shots of Lancs.
But most of the actually flying was for real and if you watch it, it's bloody good flying as well.

Remember back in the 1950's we had no money and who'd really want the Dam Busters made by the yanks?
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Old 07-01-2013, 19:32
Rodney McKay
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The Cruel Sea; seen that a few times.I found a well worn copy of the book which has more in it then the film,but the early dialogue is the same so as I started to read,I could hear Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden speaking the words which really brought the book alive.
Great book, great film. On Radio 5 a couple of years back they used to do their book club on Up All night and they persuaded one of their female reviews to read the book even though she was no fan of war books etc. She came back on the following week saying how she'd loved reading it.
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Old 24-02-2013, 09:07
drykid
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Just finally got round to watchiing this one...

I know one has to make allowances for its age and probable low budget but the climactic scenes of destruction in "The Dam Busters" are laughably bad. They look like they were filmed on someone's dining room table.
The shots of the dams blowing up I can live with, although by today's standards they'd be considered laughable. The worst shot for me (of the ones they happened to pick out in the doc) was a shot of a Lancaster framed by the cockpit window of one of the other Lancasters. I'm not sure how they actually did it, but somehow the "cockpit" must've been fixed to the model of the other Lancaster, as the movement of both relative to the back-projected ground was identical. It created a very odd-looking effect, as if both planes were stationary and the rest of the earth was moving around them...

The thing that struck me most about The Dam Busters section though was how young the director Michael Anderson came across in the modern day interview, both in looks and his general alertness. I had to look him up online and it turns out he's 93, although he came across a good 20 years younger in this. I hope I'm like that at his age!
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