Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Birthday Haul 2020 Pt. 1

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors,

I thought I would try something new and show off what I got for my Birthday. This was stuff from last year as this year is so far kind of boring for Blu Ray and DVD, at least Stateside wide. And it’s mainly stuff I got myself as some were from the UK and Germany, one was an exclusive, and were items I didn’t feel comfortable asking as gifts. If this is something you’d like to do yearly, please feel free to comment below. Enjoy.

and I’d like to give a special shout out and thanks to 88 Films for giving me a gift of Birthday points for being a customer and subscriber to their site. Really sweet!!

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Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri

EXTRA SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

Hello to all my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors,

I’m taking my annual Birthday break, but only for 2 weeks this time, taking a month off is good, but I constantly had the itch to post, so 14 days will be plenty.

Got some exciting stuff planned in the coming months, this time I’ll leave it as a surprise what’ll be coming up to add to any excitement out there.

Also, I hope everybody is safe, happy, and healthy during this very unusual period with the Coronavirus. I wish you all the best of health and safety.

Tony Nash AKA MOVIE FAN MAN

Filed under: Annoucements

She Faced Death With Dignity

by Tony Nash

(Profiling Forgotten TV Gem 3)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoilers Ahead)

Georgina Hale in Lady Killers (1980)

Lady Killers: Lucky, Lucky Thirteen! (1980) ***** TV-14

Georgina Hale: Ruth Ellis

Roberta Taylor: Roberta Martin

Edward Hardwicke: Prosecutor Christmas Humphries

Robert Flemyng: Mr. Justice Havers

Bernard Horsfall: Melford Stevenson, Q.C.

Jane Lowe: Edna Baker

Andrew Johns: John Bickford

Michael Johnson: Desmond Cussen

Hosted by Robert Morley

Written by: Frances Galleymore

Directed by: Nicholas Ferguson

Synopsis: Ruth Ellis stuns the British judicial system by not only pleading guilty to the murder of her lover David Blakely, but also demanding to be executed. Ellis also made international news by being the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

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Lady Killers hit a high mark with its third ever episode by profiling Britain’s most famous trial of the mid-20th century: the day long trial of night club operator Ruth Ellis for the blatant murder of racecar driver David Blakely. In a move that even the courts were taken aback by, Ellis not only pled guilty to the murder, but demanded that no appeals be made by her solicitor and barrister and to be executed as soon as possible. Since Ellis’ guilt wasn’t in doubt, the episode instead focuses on attempts by her closest friend, her barrister and solicitor, and even members of Britain’s court system to find out why Ellis made no attempts to at least get her sentence reduced to life in jail. As the episode progresses, audiences and characters alike become attached to a very strange woman who seemed to know exactly what she was doing by accepting to be hung for her crime of passion and facing it with a type of quiet dignity. Even stranger is the empathy and sadness viewers and characters start feeling for her.

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Host Robert Morley, who normally only appeared at the beginning and sometimes at the end of the episodes with information and facts, this time around makes frequent appearances between certain scenes discussing Ellis and her trial. This is no real surprise given the high notoriety the case received from the press, but also the history the trial made as after Ellis was hung, the Parliament, the monarchy, and even the judicial system itself abolished the death penalty for female prisoners.

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Georgina Hale, a fairly well recognized British character actress, gives the performance of a lifetime as the tragic Ruth Ellis. Ellis appeared to be a very worldly and practical woman, and Hale portrays that very well. What made Ellis standout from most of her contemporary and predecessor murderesses, was the complete calmness she displayed during her arrest, imprisonment, and trial, almost as of she was expecting everything to go as it did. Why she decided not to fight for her life, or why she wouldn’t give any details regarding how she came to find Blakely and kill him, and who may have supplied her with the gun would for some time be a mystery until way after her death, but Hale hints in her performance that Ellis didn’t want to get anyone associated with her, especially her son, more attention than was necessary, feeling this was her burden alone. Hale also plays up Ellis as a woman to be respected, as even the prison warden and bailiffs seem to have developed a kind of friendship with her, trying to make what little time she has left as pleasant as possible. The dignity Ellis displays and emits is almost overwhelming, almost as if she was a kind of martyr, acting out an almost cold rationale, as if she wanted to die.

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Several other noted British character players, including Edward Hardwicke (son of Sir Cedric, and the primary Dr. Watson of Granada’s Sherlock Holmes franchise), Robert Flemyng, and Roberta Taylor, all play characters either completely bewildered, or indifferent to Ellis’ unusual demeanor as she goes from prison, to the defendant’s block, to the Gallows. Some characters can’t comprehend why she committed the murder, while others can’t comprehend why she won’t defend herself and is almost fatalistically resigned to facing the hangman’s noose. Some try to at least get her to leave a record of what really happened, so as her son could go through life knowing his mother wasn’t the monster the press and others made her out to be. The latter does succeed as Ellis does indeed want her son to know the truth, but forces the promise of others that he’ll only see it after she’s gone. Even with this uncertainty, characters can’t help but feel a kind of admiration for Ellis.

Image result for ruth ellis caseBluntly honest and unafraid to treat the case exactly how it played out in the eyes of the press and public, Lucky, Lucky Thirteen! succeeded in showing audiences how good Lady Killers was as a series, and while each case was not as enticing or as dramatic as others, could still prove to be interesting to both history buffs and film buffs.

(This episode is another one I would consider giving a view of, primarily for Georgina Hale’s wonderful performance as Ellis. Certainly not as frank as some of the other episodes of the series, the Ruth Ellis case was a turning point in the world history as the death penalty for female prisoners was abolished not long after her execution, an act that would soon be carried over to male prisoners, and would make its way to the States. One of the few heart felt episodes where the viewer can feel a kind of empathy for Ellis as she had some regrets for her actions, but also realized it was better to pay for her crime rather than to make a plea she didn’t feel worthy of.  The episode has its moments of age over the years, but the quality is still very good.

all images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272992/?ref_=tt_ov_inf

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0624348/?ref_=ttep_ep3

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Ellis

https://murderpedia.org/female.E/e/ellis-ruth.htm

Go to the Marguerite Alibert case post for DVD buying options

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics

The Devil in a Deceitful Body

by Tony Nash

(A Forgotten TV Series Part 2)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Author’s Note: Like with the first installment, stills from the real case will be used as no stills from the episode exist. Also, while I don’t go into any graphic detail, some may find the details and instances of the case presented to be a little unsettling and even disturbing, so anyone who is sensitive and squeamish may want to skip this one.)

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Lady Killers Episode 2: Not for the Nervous (1980) ***** TV-14

Elaine Page: Kate Webster

Michael Kitchen: Reverend Father M’Enery

Peter Sallis: Mr. O’Brien

William Wilde: Barrister Warner Sleigh

T.P. McKenna: Sir Hardinge Giffard, Q.C.

Leslie French: Mr. Justice Denman

John Fraser: John Church

Harry Littlewood: Henry Porter

Hosted by Robert Morley

Written by: Arden Winch

Directed by: Valerie Hanson

Synopsis: Irish criminal Kate Webster faces trial for the murder of her aged employer Mrs. Julia Thomas in 1879. Considered the most sinister murder case prior the White Chapel/Jack the Ripper Murders a decade later.

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Lady Killers second episode explored one of the first murder cases to cause mass debate and discussion among the populace of Britain, and its surrounding areas. Irish immigrant Kate Webster, having to leave her homeland due to her criminal past and the mass potato famine, was arrested for the murder of her employer Mrs. Thomas. The evidence presented by the prosecution and witnesses revealed a sordid and horrific act in which Webster is said to have attacked Mrs. Thomas, killed her, and then proceeded to dismember her body. Webster maintained her innocence throughout the trial, claiming she was forced into the act by an old boyfriend and the patriarch of a family she’d known for several years, and insisted her belief in God would never lead her to such actions on normal grounds. Since she was indeed Catholic, the courts allowed her the benefit of religious council and brought in a priest from a small community to advise her spiritually and care for her young son. When it becomes clear, Webster’s accounts change too much, even the Priest begins to suspect something, and warns her to be honest with him. The question that remains is, can he handle her confession?

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Elaine Page, a character actress known for her comedy and broadcasting career, gives an understated dramatic performance as Kate Webster. Webster was indeed a two-faced woman, devout and even a little superstitious in her Catholic upbringing, a loving and caring mother, but at the same time very manipulative and deceitful. While seemingly friendly towards the people who tried to welcome her warmly, Webster clearly displays an erratic behavior that has her lying one minute, and telling the truth another. Page shows off Webster as a self-loathing woman, hating to constantly be reminded of her humble origins in Ireland, having to steal because her family was too poor for most necessities, and forced to endure the harsh criticisms of her British neighbors for her heritage. Her actions become even stranger when she states she had no interest in taking the deceased’s expensive jewelry, which would’ve got her safe passage abroad. Page’s acting leaves the viewer constantly wondering if Webster truly hated doing what she had to do in order to survive, or if her circumstances finally pushed her to a point where she no longer cared, or if there was an evil inside Webster that she herself couldn’t understand, or even saw as normal behavior for someone like herself.

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The remainder of the cast, including Peter Sallis and Michael Kitchen, deliver fine supporting and secondary roles in the episode. All of the characters, particularly Father M’Enery, are often at odds with themselves because, on the one hand they believe in Webster’s sincerities, but at the same time constantly feel that there’s something the woman isn’t telling them. The crime itself has them all baffled as it was committed with such intricacy and sadism that whoever the killer was had no morality or decency in them. They also ponder why Webster accuses someone as forcing her involvement in the crime, then changing her story, or why none of Mrs. Thomas’s jewelry was taken given Webster’s past as a thief. As more and more truths come to light in the trial, either inadvertently, or because Webster was caught in a lie, everyone begins to sense something more sinister to the crime, and to Webster herself.

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Host Robert Morley only states in the opening that the trial of Kate Webster caused a salacious and scandalous amount of talk in the wake of her conviction and execution, and it’s actually better he only stated that aspect, because as the episode unfolds and audiences see Elaine Page’s acting and her monumental confession scene, the truth of the murder and trial becomes more potent than if Mr. Morley had hinted what of viewers of that time and now would see unfold. The revelations are frank and to the point with nothing held back, and leaves those who watched it, bewildered, unsettled, and even a little afraid.

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While the premiere episode about Marguerite Alibert was anti-climatic to audiences, the case of Kate Webster proved the series had much to offer in its handling of the various murder cases it would present for the next year and a half. Handled very much like a stage play as it goes from set to set, and of course the fine acting from all the players, the plot slowly unveils the true nature of the case and its prime suspect with sublimity and finesse, leading the viewer step by step to an unflinching conclusion.

(I highly recommend this one as the ending really is one you don’t see coming until the last five or ten minutes of the episode and does leave you heavily shaken and scared. Elaine Page does a fantastic job as Kate Webster as audiences don’t know whether to believe or despise  her for her actions and manner. For anyone who enjoys true crime stories, this one would not only be up your ally, but it would also be the most true to form depiction of a court case ever brought to screen. The episode has its flaws in the transfer as it was videotape and at points you can the aging process occur, but is still very clear, and the lighting does add to the mood in the non court scenes.)

all images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0272992/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_3

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0624354/?ref_=ttep_ep2

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Julia_Martha_Thomas

https://murderpedia.org/female.W/w/webster-catherine.htm

(please see the Marguerite Alibert episode post for the DVD options)

Filed under: TV: Analysis/Overview, TV: Special Topics