Priest held for questioning with a side of buzz bombs

Yesterday I promised to give you some teasers about the first two films I saw in The Best of Britain series currently running at the Seattle Art Museum. Don’t be expecting a full review, now! I could do that, but I’m more interested in dropping some virtual breadcrumbs that will make you seek out the actual films. I do hope these are available on DVD so you can hunt them down once I’ve awakened your curiosity.

One of the reasons I worship any metropolitan center is the movie houses. I’ve seen lots of films since I moved here that are not available on DVD. I’ve also gotten to see a lot of old favorites on the big screen—nothing compares to seeing The Wizard of Oz at a midnight screening at the Egyptian in Capitol Hill, sitting amidst a crowd of drag queens. And you haven’t truly learned to fear the flying monkeys until you see them soaring above your head. Now we shall go on to the British films. This would be an appropriate moment to put on the kettle.

The first film in the series, Father Brown, Detective (Robert Hamer, 1954), is a tasty little morsel which stars Alec Guinness in the days long before his lauded career got overshadowed by the specter of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Guinness plays a priest who is seeking to save the soul of an art thief. The movie is based on a series of novels by G.K. Chesterton. I enjoyed the books, but the movie really brought the comic bits to the fore. I loved it, and fans of the Pink Panther series will note an interesting antecedent to the Cato character. Don’t know what I’m talking about? See both movies!

The second film, Green for Danger (Sidney Gilliat, 1946), is based on a novel by Christianna Brand. Now I want to read the novel. This is stylish noir set during WWII. I never realized how terrifying buzz bombs could be. The film raised some history questions I can’t answer, so it left me seeking info on a topic I usually avoid—ah serendipity! Most of all, it introduced me to Alastair Sim, an actor I had never heard of but will now seek out. How can a dark mystery set during war be so funny? Go find out!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

4. See a movie that intrigues you and investigate any curiosity that it awakens. The universe if full of stepping stones from one fun thing to another—splash your feet in the cosmic stream!


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