Thursday, November 9, 2017


"There's a superb old Alastair Sim movie on the early afternoon show." 
Felix Mulholland

I'm a bit like Lt. Columbo with his obsession over the most trivial of clues.  It's little references like this that want me searching for more information... information... information.  What Alastair Sim movie did he want to see?

Even by 1973, most of Sim's movies might be considered old.  For a good part of the 1960s, Sim was not seen on TV or in the movies.  After "The Millionairess", which came out in 1960, he was next seen in the mini-series "Cold Comfort Farm" in 1968.  (I'm assuming he was tied up in theater productions during that time.)  So I think Felix was considering a movie from Sim's credits up to the mid-1950s.  

But he also described the movie as superb and I think that would narrow it down.  Of course, I'm looking at it from a general consensus of his movies; Mr. Mulholland's opinion of course might be different.  He was a persnickety and erudite scholar, instrumental for Banacek's investigations in doing the research needed.  

I consider four Sim movies in that time frame to be "superb" - "An Inspector Calls", "The Belles Of St. Trinian's", "Stage Fright", and "A Christmas Carol".

I think we can eliminate "A Christmas Carol" right off.  The 'Banacek' episode "The Two Million Clams of Cap'n Jack" appears to be seasonal - Banacek, Fennyman, and a couple of the other insurance investigators were playing football in the park; so it was in the Autumn.  Sim will forever be identified with Ebenezer Scrooge and I think his version of the Dickens' classic stands as the definitive adaptation.  So more than likely, even back in 1973, it was already being saved for only holiday screenings on TV.  And I think it probable that it would be seen in prime-time, "family hour" perhaps, in December.  And the Boston weather seen in that episode didn't suggest late Autumn.

I think we can eliminate "Stage Fright" as well.  As great as Sim is in that movie, I think if someone were to describe it, they would call it a Hitchcock movie since he directed it.  But it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble.

As for "Belles of St. Trinian's", I think it's too much of a puff piece to interest Mr. Mulholland.  Then again he did have an eye for young ladies and the girls who attended St. Trinian's School might have caught his interest.

My candidate would be "An Inspector Calls", based on the play by J.B. Priestley.  It's a cerebral piece of theater translated to the screen and Sim as the Inspector proves to be more of a mystery than the family of the victim.  I think this is the movie that would have intrigured the "leetle grey cells" of Felix Mulholland's mind.

As Dennis Miller used to say, that's my opinion; I could be wrong.  What do you think?

Still.....  any Alastair Sim movie would be appointment viewing in those pre-VCR days.  I don't blame Felix in bowing out of whatever Banacek wanted him to do.

This quote also serves as proof that somewhere out there in Toobworld, there was a televersion of Alastair Sim.


1 comment:

Mike Doran said...

You never heard of Green For Danger?

From Rank in 1946, based on Christianna Brand's novel, directed by Sidney Gilliat, with Alastair Sim as Inspector Cockrill?

Many critics consider it to be not only one of the best British mystery films - but one of the best British films, period.
(... or should I have written full stop?)