Moving moments

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

I like a good film or as the process is called nowadays, the movies, but whether be it on the flat screen wonder at home or the cinema to see something worthwhile it’s worth the risk I think.

It’s interesting to note that if a trailer for a new film shortly to be released, or in some cases escape, is shown, it can tell you a lot.

One that never fails is the following: “Critics are calling this the comedy of the year” – bare bones of the matter is or could be – it died a death when it was released in the States a few weeks ago and hopefully it might, just might, make its production budget back once it opens (...and closes swiftly) over here.

Another strap line added to film titles is the old standby of ‘Based on a true story’ that is sure to get ‘bums on seats’ but some of these supposed ‘true stories’ are questionable at times, more so if you know your history.

Somebody in the trade once explained the different classes of films: epics, crowd-pleasers and clunkers.

Another theme is showing all the ‘best bits’, such as they might be, in the trailer and it’s then padded out with so much dross in the actual film, you tend to hope the trailers within this showing will yield something exciting but often such hopes are cruelly dashed.

Some films in recent times have failed to appear on a big screen near you but a few months later, they are on DVD in the local quid shop or similar bargain bazaar but at the very worse, you win it in a raffle.

One such gem I ‘won’ a little while back was quite interesting.

It had the title on the cover in English, each character on said cover was clutching a gun and so I assumed it was about pest control, as you do, but when I played it they spoke in Iranian (my Iranian is not that clever but he tries his best) with, joy of great joys, sub titles... in Hungarian.

I am led to believe it was Hungarian after a bit of minor research but regardless after about 10 minutes of this novelty, I stopped it and realised that it would not be giving the Oscar award judging panel sleepless nights, unless they turn the sound up and hear all those bullets and bombs going off with yells and screams in Iranian.

What a world of difference today as you hear people talking about a film they had seen and although they can’t remember who was in it, as basically the actors all look the same, but one recent nugget I overheard was: “The world got blew up and things and all these, like, aliens from space attacked and blew things up...”

I was half tempted to ask if the world had ‘got blew up’, what was left that was so fascinating for ‘aliens from space’ to travel to us to attack what exactly, if the world was blown up, what was there left to attack? – dust, rubble or what?

A title can at times be to blame for people not understanding what a film is about as the following incident may be a source of enlightenment from another age.

It has cult status now and rightly so in my humble opinion but when ‘The Italian Job’ starring Michael Caine about the daring gold bullion robbery was first shown in the late 1960s, it reputedly did not do great business at the box office then but regardless, myself and other like minded friends heard by word of mouth that it was a ‘caper’ film and off we went.

Before this there was a slight misunderstanding in our household as mum, she of the people for the people, welcomed my friends as they arrived one early evening and on hearing we were going to the cinema she asked what film we were going to see.

Friend Stan said “Mike Caine in the Italian Job of course, Mrs W” and mum said it would be a waste of money as what did Michael Caine know about ice cream or hairdressing for that matter to which dad looked over his copy of the ‘Candle Makers Weekly’ he was reading and the ‘It Gets on Your Wick’ advice section, and uttered those mesmeric words of advice as in: “Shut up, mother...”

Mum then raved about the best film she had ever seen Michael Caine in and when he was Cilla Black.

Yes, you read that right.

We indeed heard it collectively at the time and it brought the house into total silence, followed by dad mumbling something like ‘She has been at the Brasso again..’ and then asking, but saying first he felt he would regret asking, just what was she going on about?

Oddly I think we all thought the same as she enlightened us all, dad more so.

She pointed out he played the part of Healthy where “He talked to us a lot as we watched him on the screen” (he spoke to camera as its called in the business) and we stood there with not a word spoken and then she burst (?) into song thus: “What’s it all about, Healthy?..”

Sadly she was talking about Michael Caine in the film called ‘Alfie’ (or Healthy to my mum) and the late Cilla Black sung the film theme tune written by Burt Bacharach called, well, ‘Alfie’.

An easy enough mistake all things considered and we departed pronto to see Michael Caine not selling ice cream or doing perms but trying to rob gold bullion from Italy.

Oddly whenever this song was played on the radio afterwards, ‘our gang’ would stop and look in the mirror, if one handy, then put their tongue out to check if they were okay or take their pulse to see if they were healthy or even Alfie.

Stan used to say: “ I blame your mum for all this you know”

I related this incident to an Italian friend and he couldn’t stop laughing oddly: “Heya – yora da mudder – she a righter a comicala! – I like-a her, she-a da funnee!” and while this might be the case, she was not up for adoption although dad at times might have thought about discussions and transfer fees etc of course.

I should also point out that she thought his role in ‘Zulu’ was ‘not quite the ticket you know’ as she told a friend after she mentioned something about it to her in passing as being a ‘good film to see’.

Mum had seen it and thought that there was no need to go about generally killing all those ‘Zulu blokes’ as a better way about such matters was best solved by having a sit down and over a cup of tea discussing what the problem was and coming to an amicable agreement that did not involve chucking spears or firing rifles like they do in the film.

I hope the above has been a source of enlightenment but don’t blame me if the next time you hear Cilla Black singing ‘Alfie’ you start joining in by bursting into song and going along with her but singing ‘Healthy’. But if you do, get someone to take your pulse as you can’t be too careful nowadays.

Previously...

Heroes and visions