“Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday”

Or, more correctly, “Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot”.

Jacques Tati, the French film maker and script writer, made this wonderful film and it was released to the world in 1953.

Many of Tati’s films make use of the big screen. “Playtime”, for example, was shot using the 70mm film format. Very often, the camera is static and events just evolve.

Everything in this film has a noise, and the car is a star.

Tati revisited the film several times over the years, fine tuning it, andd there are different versions available. There’s a Tati box set with at least two versions on.

This film follows Tati’s character Hulot as he goes on holiday to the seaside. Disasters happen.

It’s a very French film, of course, and pokes fun at a number of French political types and at French life.

The dialogue, such as it is, is deliberately matter-of-fact. It is a delightful film with some genuinely funny moments, and worth finding on bluray. It bears repeated viewing.

Tati revisited the character, but really wanted to move on. I often think that the Tony Hancock film “The Punch And Judy Man” was his attempt to make a British version of “Holiday”, with all the grimness of the English seaside.

The television

Cinema (movies if you like) was always a popular form of entertainment. It was inexpensive, readily accessible, you didn’t need to dress up, you didn’t need to be quiet or concentrate (you could eat, snog, talk whatever)… But cinema had competition. In the 1950s and early 1960s, television became a real threat.

TV has something else. It was in your own comfortable home, not only did you not need to dress up you did not need to dress at all, you could come and go as you pleased, watch with your family and it was free. Well, of course it wasn’t free. In some countries you pay a tv tax (a licence fee) but mostly there are the annoying adverts, with companies passing on their costs through the items you buy.

There’s nothing quite like watching a film on the big screen. But sales were definitely affected by tv, and Hollywood and all cinema had to react.

So we get big screen formats and widescreen films. Some had been around a while, others were newly invented. VistaVision, Superscope, Ultra Panavision, Techniscope and even the fantastic Cinerama, initially a three camera harking back to Abel Gance, 70mm and so on. The list is long, and today we have IMAX, OMNIMAX and more.

There were epic films, often Bible-based. David Lean contributed a couple of big screen treats, and we must never forget “Around the World in 80 Days” or “How The West Was Won” (this in Cinerama).

But there were plenty of other, er gimmicks, to get the punters in. 3D came back, and there were many cheap films, there were also some genuine classics designed especially for the 3D process, such as Hitchcock’s “Dial M For Murder” or George Sidney’s “Kiss Me Kate”.

3D makes the odd come back every so often. There have been some great 3D films. And dross.

But let’s also not forget Smellovision. Or the Tingler.

Nowadays, of course, we rarely get to see a proper film at the cinema. Very few directors are still using genuine film. It’s just a dvd projected onto a big screen, at a higher level.

“12 Angry Men”

It started as a tv play from American tv in the early 1950s, and has been re-made many times and is a favourite for theatre groups even now, but the film version of “12 Angry Men” from 1957 is still the best.

The film was directed by Sidney Lumet and has a very strong all-male cast, including Lee J Cobb and Henry Fonda.

The plot is very simple: a group of jurors consider the case of a young boy accused of stabbing his father to death. They weigh the evidence and decide a verdict.

Nothing much happens other than in the jury room, and the sense of heat and claustrophobia is very strong.

You can understand why it is a theatre favourite. Apart from a simple set with a big table, it’s just talking.

So much has been written about this film and its hidden meanings, but you can make of it what you will. Some of the arguments presented are apparently not correct, and there is a point where something happens that in reality would cause a mis-trial, but don’t worry about that.

I recently found it on bluray, and suggest you track down this version.