My visits to the White Bus Company in Southend are becoming addictive. The enthusiasm of the organisers is quite infectious and their ability to come up with what seems to be random gems from the backlog of British cinema is wonderful. Last night was a good example. The programme started with an episode of the 1950's BBC documentary series WAR IN THE AIR with fascinating footage of World War Two aerial warfare with, in this epsode, emphasis on the daylight/nighttime bombing raids by the RAF and USAF. This was followed by Lindsay Andersons very first film - a documentary about conveyor belts - called MEET THE PIONEERS which may have some historical significance in the director's career but which propelled the audience into a vortex of near terminal boredom. Promises of more Anderson documentaries in the future were not appreciated. The main feature was a Boulting Brother's comedy which, perhaps not as highly regarded as some of their Ian Carmichael classics was nonetheless a wonderfully uncomplicated and very funny slice of British comedy featuring a cast of great British character actors who I'd have been prepared to watch reading extracts from the London Telephone Directory let alone in this satire on the English diplomatic service. Just look at the names involved : Terry-Thomas, Peter Sellers, Thorley Walters, Miles Malleson, John Le Mesurier, Kynaston Reeves , Ronald Adams, Raymond Huntley, Nicholas Parsons, Irene Handl, Harry Locke, Sam Kydd and Basil Dignam. Add to this the lovely Luciana Paoluzzi and Ian Bannen as the heirs to the throne of the fictional island of Galardia. I was particularly pleased to see in the supporting cast the actor John Van Eyssen - more famous as Jonathan Harker in Terence Fisher's DRACULA (1958) - who was a production executive in my days at Columbia Pictures. The film was greatly appreciated by the audience (certainly as an antidote to the Lindsay Anderson film) and recieved an ovation. Rating ***
Courtesy of The Whie Bus Company.