Chance of a Lifetime (LEICESTER SQUARE THEATRE)
Director: Bernard Miles
1 _IKE the child who has a spoon.' ful of medicine held in front of its face, the public is not likely to take kindly to a compulsory dose of film. But that is what this story of a labour-management dispute in a factory amounts to-for it is the first of its kind-an independent production to he " ordered" by the Government to be shown on the Rank circuit.
The reason goes back a longish way and is intended to meet the complaint of independent producers that a showing on the major circuits was impossible. Monopoly and all that.
Chance of a Lifetime, therefore, has been unlucky in having this " take it or leave it " debut and I think people should try to forget about the dose of medicine and look at the picture impartially.
The basic idea-and topical-is a strike in a factory because of the dismissal of one of the workers. The product of the factory is agricultural implements but Bernard Miles, who besides collaborating with Walter Greenwood in the script, and directing, also plays one of his characteristic country types, seems to forget the factory side completely. I remember only one shot of wheels whirring and the noise of machinery.
For the rest of the time, the men are seen hanging about, or rustic quiet arguing or arriving casually on bicycles. It would be nice to believe that ploughs, winnowing machines, even spades and pitehforks were turned out in this tranquil atmosphere, but it is not true.
Upstairs sits the managing director (Basil Radford), head of the business that his family have held for two or three generations.
When the trouble-making workman is dismissed and the walkout follows, the managing director rallies enough energy to tell the men to run the factory themselves-and he walks out-let us hope to spend a more typical Basil Radford day watching cricket.
This is the spot at which the fog really begins to descend. For what is the film getting at ? With two elected workmen now sitting at the desk of management, something like sabotage gets under way from the steel producers so that a large order from " Zenobia " for a new plough can't be met.
Bankers prove to be another stumbling block to the new management-although the problem is put neatly by Compton Mackenzie who plays the part of a bank governor. (Let's have more of him on the films.)
The managing director, meanwhile, far from soothing his nerves on a deck chair, is working underground on behalf of his ungrateful workers. getting steel released and so on. Here I couldn't help the ignoble thought-was it altruism or an attempt to save the family business.
However, much to the relief of everyone, he comes back, but not to the managing director's chair. That he courteously cedes to the second of the workmen-who has turned out to have gifts of leadership!
The fog is still on.
The Big Lift (013E0N, MARBLE ARCH) Director : George Seaton
Hollywood learns its lessons slowly. At least, sections of it does. After its first war films when America was seen taking on a good slice of the world single-handed, Britain began to get a bit of credit from those studio-bound moguls whose life oscillates between director's chair and the home swimming pool.
But a slight falling from grace is evident here, with an American member of the air lift to Berlin, who is being presented by grateful Berliners with a gift of recognition, saying that he accepts it " on behalf of all the others-the French-and (here the speech becomes indistinct though it sounds like " the limeys, I mean the British " added very much as an afterthought).
A pinprick. But quite unnecessary.
What The Big Lift is mainly concerned with, however, is the impact of one American airman's naive susceptibility on the cunning and opportunism of an attractive German girl (Cornell Bouchers) who tells the usual tale of a professor father who died in a concentration camp rather than yield his political opinions to the Nazis. He swallows her tale, hook, line and sinker and only finds on the registry office steps that she plans to marry him just to get into the States and join her German lover.
It is a stricken young man who takes off for the last time from Tempelhof.
Even apart front this courageous departure from the conventional happy ending, The Big Lift is a competent hit of screenwork, welldialogued and attempting, in a way, to show what " occupation" means to a people.
The Search (ON RELEASE) Director: Fred Zinnemann , After much inquiry from many people I am glad to be able to tell you that The Search-M.G.M.'s fine film about the lost children of Europe-is now released and should certainly be seen. Also among the releases to be recommended is Lost Boundaries the " white negro " problem deftly and honestly handled.