This fine collection of British Film Noir hidden gems includes films that were all made in the 1950’s. The films all demonstrate the mood, darkness and espionage of the first decade after the 2nd World War. The world is in turmoil in the years following WW2. Cold war tensions are high and the threat of nuclear war is a real possibility. Espionage and counter espionage plots abound. In High Treason (1951), directed by Roy Boulting, a ship is blown up in the Port of London and Special Branch discover a communist plot to sabotage power stations. Will the authorities foil the saboteurs before they can put their deadly plan into action? In Deadly Nightshade (1953) Robert Matthews is an apparently innocent artist enjoying his holiday in Cornwall however all is not as it seems in a case of mistaken identity with tragic consequences? The Big Chance (1957) is a fast paced thriller starring screen siren Adrienne Corri. Bill Anderson (William Russell) has a mundane job as a clerk in a travel agency His chance to escape his monotonous existence when a client changes his travel plans at the last minute. Will Bill eventually escape the monotony of his existence or will he realise he is not cut out for life on the run? Dublin Nightmare (1958) sees a dissident republican return to Dublin to aid the Republican cause by taking part in the armed robbery of a security van in the North. The robbery is a success but when ‘the movement’ discover a traitor will they be able to extract their revenge before he escapes?
From Richard Zacks, bestselling author of Island of Vice and The Pirate Hunter, a rich and lively account of how Mark Twain's late-life adventures abroad helped him recover from financial disaster and family tragedy-and revived his world-class sense of humorMark Twain, the highest-paid writer in America in 1894, was also one of the nation's worst investors. "There are two times in a man's life when he should not speculate," he wrote. "When he can't afford it and when he can." The publishing company Twain owned was failing, his investment in a typesetting device was bleeding red ink. After losing hundreds of thousands of dollars back when a beer cost a nickel, he found himself neck-deep in debt. His heiress wife, Livy, took the setback hard. "I have a perfect horror and heart-sickness over it," she wrote. "I cannot get away from the feeling that business failure means disgrace."But Twain vowed to Livy he would pay back every penny. And so, just when the fifty-nine-year-old, bushy-browed icon imagined that he would be settling into literary lionhood, telling jokes at gilded dinners, he forced himself to mount the "platform" again, embarking on a round-the-world stand-up comedy tour. No author had ever done that. He cherry-picked his best stories-such as stealing his first watermelon and buying a bucking bronco-and spun them into a ninety-minute performance.Twain trekked across the American West and onward by ship to the faraway lands of Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, India, Ceylon, and South Africa. He rode an elephant twice and visited the Taj Mahal. He saw Zulus dancing and helped sort diamonds at the Kimberley mines. (He failed to slip away with a sparkly souvenir.) He played shuffleboard on cruise ships and battled captains for the right to smoke in peace. He complained that his wife and daughter made him shave and change his shirt every day.The great American writer fought off numerous illnesses and travel nuisances to circle the globe and earn a huge payday and a tidal wave of applause. Word of his success, however, traveled slowly enough that one American newspaper reported that he had died penniless in London. That's when he famously quipped: "The report of my death was an exaggeration."Throughout his quest, Twain was aided by cutthroat Standard Oil tycoon H.H. Rogers, with whom he had struck a deep friendship, and he was hindered by his own lawyer (and future secretary of state) Bainbridge Colby, whom he deemed "head idiot of this century."In Chasing the Last Laugh, author Richard Zacks, drawing extensively on unpublished material in notebooks and letters from Berkeley's ongoing Mark Twain Project, chronicles a poignant chapter in the author's life-one that began in foolishness and bad choices but culminated in humor, hard-won wisdom, and ultimate triumph.
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is widely regarded as one of the best films ever made. It has been celebrated for its beauty and mystery, its realistic depiction of space travel and dazzling display of visual effects, the breathtaking scope of its story, which reaches across millions of years, and the thought-provoking depth of its meditation on evolution, technology and humanity's encounters with the unknown. 2001 has been described as the most expensive avant-garde movie ever made and as a psychedelic trip, a unique expression of the spirit of the 1960s and as a timeless masterpiece. Peter Krämer's insightful study explores the complex origins of the film, the unique shape it took and the extraordinary impact it made on contemporary audiences. Drawing on new research in the Stanley Kubrick Archive at the University of the Arts London, Krämer challenges many of the widely-held assumptions about the film. He argues that 2001 was Kubrick's attempt to counter the deep pessimism of his previous film, Dr Strangelove (1964), which culminates in the explosion of a nuclear 'doomsday' device, with a more hopeful vision of humanity's future, facilitated by the intervention of mysterious extra-terrestrial artifacts. This study traces the project's development from the first letter Kubrick wrote to his future collaborator Arthur C. Clarke in March 1964 all the way to the dramatic changes Kubrick made to the film shortly before its release by MGM in April 1968. Krämer shows that, despite - or, perhaps, because of - Kubrick's daring last-minute decision to turn the film itself into a mysterious artifact, 2001 was an instant success with both critics and general audiences, and has exerted enormous influence over Hollywood's output of science fiction movies ever since. The book argues that 2001 invites us to enjoy and contemplate its sounds and images over and over again, and, if we are so inclined, to take away from it an important message of hope.