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Ronald Neame passò tardi alla regia, dopo essere stato produttore di
Lean. Nei suoi film mise in luce un'attenzione (non esente da humour) per ambienti e fenomeni
tipicamente britannici, anche se negli anni Settanta il suo disinvolto eclettismo lo traviò nelle
spire del cinema commerciale.
The Golden Salamander (1949) is about
an archaeologist who gets mixed up with gun runners.
The Card (1952) descriveva l'arrampicata sociale di un giovane
seduttore di umili origini che sfrutta le sue avventure sentimentali per diventare sindaco, ma sposa una
maestrina di ballo. Così The Horse's Mouth (1958) narrava il raggiungimento del
successo da parte di un artista stravagante stabilitosi su un barcone.
Tunes of Glory (1960) is a psychological thriller about the war of nerves
between two mentally insane officers that results in mutual destruction.
World War II just ended and a Scottish battalion is celebrating.
The daughter of the major (Alec Guinness) who has led the battalion in war
is secretely meeting with a piper, but an older soldier warns her that the
fact is well known. At the dinner the major announces that he is to be
replaced by a colonel (John Mills). The major leads the wild dances at the
end of the dinner. When the colonel arrives, he is a completely different kind:
he did not win his medals on the front but at the university, and his
credentials are mainly family tradition. The colonel, however, mentions that
he was a prisoner of war in a Japanese concentration camp.
The major is not happy at all that an aristocratic bureaucrat is taking his
place. At home he is tough and possessive towards his daughter, reminding her
that only prostitutes hang out by the soldiers' barracks, a sign that he
knows of her affair.
The colonel does not ingratiate himself by debuting with orders that tighten
the discipline. He even disapproves of the dances. When the men object, he
threatens them with severe punishment. However, at the first party the men
resume their rowdy dances led by the major himself.
The colonel loses his temper and shouts in a style reminiscent of the Nazis.
Later, alone with a trusted officer, the colonel confesses that he is
mentally unstable because of the torture inflicted on him by the Japanese.
Meanwhile, the colonel and a few officers go to a pub to have a good time, but
that's where his daughter is meeting her boyfriend. He furiously attacks the
young man, basically demonstrating the same lack of self-control in the
private sphere as the colonel did in the public sphere. To make matters worse,
it is illegal to strike a soldier wearing the uniform.
The major is further upset when he visits his girlfriend
Mary: she is being visited by their old acquaintance Charlie, an officer whom
the major despises. The major, jealous, leaves after a few rude remarks.
The same Charlie later convinces the colonel that an inquest must be made, i.e.
that the major must be brought to court-martial. Mary informs the mayor of
The major is saved by his subordinates, who protest against the court-martial.
The colonel recognizes that prosecuting a popular major is not a good idea and
gives up, but this makes him even less respected by the troops. Eventually
he kills himself.
The mayor takes the blame for the suicide and orders a hero funeral.
He is now a devastated man.
Di tutti e tre i capolavori di Neame fu interprete
I Could Go On Singing (1963) era invece un melodramma musicale a lieto fine con Judy
Garland nella parte di una cantante che ha rinunciato a sposare l'uomo che amava per non
comprometterne la carriera, rimanendo così lontana anche dal loro figlio.
The humorous caper film Gambit (1966) has an unusual structure in that
it first presents the plan as conceived by the thief and then its actual
Harry (Michael Caine) tells his partner Emile his plan.
He recruits a night-club dancer, Nicole (Shirley MacLaine),
to pull off the theft of his life: stealing a priceless sculpture that belongs
to a reclusive Arab art collector.
Harry and his accomplice Emile dress up Nicole so she looks like the dead wife
of the Arab.
This trick gets them into the palace of the Arab tycoon, who is amazed by
the resemblance and explains why he purchased the priceless bust: it represents
a Burmese princess who lived centuries before but looked also surprisingly like
his dead wife.
This is the plan.
The real action is full of surprises, and the film's main protagonist becomes
the woman, who helps clumsy Harry to continuously improvise new variants to
his original plan.
To start with, the tycoon only invites them to lunch on his boat. It is she
who finds a way to get them invited to his apartment. Next, the tycoon finds
out that Harry is a fake lord, but still goes ahead with the invitation because
he is curious (and maybe in love with the fake lady). It turns out the sculture
is protected by all sorts of electronic devices.
She guesses what Harry is up to and at first refuses to go on with his plan.
But then decides that she doesn't want him to go to jail, and helps him out.
While she entertains the Arab, Harry enters the apartment and steals the
bust. In the process, he really falls in love with Nicole. They split
to be safer. But the Arab has kept his men after them and can easily find
the woman. He tells her that he was playing cat and mouse with them, and admits
he lost against Harry: Harry stole the real sculpture, not the decoy.
But now the Arab wants to end the game: he tells Nicole to meet Harry and
return the original. He also gives Nicole a report on Harry that shows he is an
amateur: this is his first crime. Nicole joins Harry and begs him to return
the bust, but Harry swears he never stole it. Harry sends a note to the Arab
telling him to look inside a Buddha statue: that's where Harry hid the priceless
bust. The Arab is puzzled why Harry would spend so much money and risk jail
only not to steal the bust.
Harry's goal was simpler: he only wanted the publicity. All the newspapers in
the world are reporting that the bust was stolen. Emile was once commissioned
by the Arab to make a copy (the decoy) and he made an extra copy, a
perfect reproduction of the original. Now that the entire world has been
informed by the newspapers that the original has been stolen they (Harry and
Emile) can sell the reproduction as the original to any collector in the world.
The plan was actually ingenious.
Nicole is amazed, but decides she doesn't want to live with a crook. She is
about to leave him forever when he chooses her over the money: he lets the
head crash to the floor and leaves with Nicole, asking Emile to forgive him.
Emile seems indifferent. As soon as they leave, he opens a cabinet:
he made an entire collection of reproductions of the priceless artifact, and,
most likely, he'll sell one to each collector who asks for it.
The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (1968) affrontava polemicamente il
problema dell'educazione, descrivendo lo scandalo suscitato in un austero istituto femminile dai modi
spregiudicati di un'insegnante zitella e complessata che turba le allieve al punto che si suicida.
In film come questo Neame si dimostrò fine psicologo dell'animo femminile e attento esploratore
di situazioni scabrose (il passato di un uomo rispettabile, le tendenze omosessuali in una classe
Dopo l'adesione a formule più spettacolari, Neame abbracciò i
generi canonici di Hollywood, dall'avventuroso allo spionistico, trovando la giusta maniera nelle
commedie per Matthau.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972) e` la storia di un prete che conduce
in salvo i superstiti di un naufragio.
Hopscotch (1979) is an adaptation of Brian Garfield's best-seller, a hilarious parody of the spy thriller.
Miles (Walter Matthau) is a US agent who intercepts a Soviet agent
at a festival in Germany before he can carry out his mission.
Miles is happy to get the microfilm from him. The Soviet agent is an old
acquaintance and doesn't even try to escape. Miles, on the other hand, doesn't
even try to arrest him. Back at headquarters in the USA, though, Miles' boss is furious
because Miles let the Soviet spy go and, in general, makes his own rules.
Miles is reassigned to a desk job and relieved of his counter-espionage duty.
But Miles disappears without telling them where he is going.
He travels to a village in Austria where he meets an old lover of his,
Isobel (Glenda Jackson).
The Soviet agent tracks him down and tries to hire him but, instead,
indirectly gives him the idea to write his memoirs, a book that is certain
to wreak havoc in both the Western and Eastern spy agencies.
Isobel warns him that he will be killed, but Miles is unstoppable. He even
deliberately mails copies of his chapters to the main spy agencies of the
Miles start travelling around the world to avoid the various services that
want him dead. On the way he causes his boss' house to be destroyed by the
Miles' old buddy Cutter gets permission from the boss to travel to Austria to negotiate with Isobel, whom he too has known for a long time. He begs Isobel to
tell Miles to stop before he gets killed.
Meanwhile Miles has completed the manuscript and delivers it to a publisher
in London. Miles also hires an engineer to design a custom device for
Isobel easily avoids the agent who is watching her and takes a plane
to join him.
Miles' boss flies to London and pressures the publisher to surrender the
manuscript but is flatly told that only one man can stop the publication of the book: Miles himself. The publisher even gives him the addres of the hotel where
Miles is staying.
The Soviet agents are also rushing there. They all arrive at the same time but
only find a tape in which Miles basically challenges them to catch him before
the manuscript is published. He then captures Cutter and leaves him tied to
a chair, making sure to tell him when and where his plane will take off: the
following morning from a nearby airfield.
Miles then makes an anonymous call to the hotel telling them to help Cutter.
Cutter obviously tells everybody where and when Miles will take off.
When he gets a flat tire, Miles is helped by two cops. The cops are kind
and even offer him coffee at the station. When they are about to find out
that he is wanted, he escapes and steals their car.
Isobel and Miles meet on the road to the airfield.
Meanwhile, the various secret agents have surrounded the airfield waiting for him to show up. He makes sure that they see him board an old plane. The boss in
person chases him on a helicopter. Miles engages in all sorts of acrobatic
maneouvres to escape, but eventually crashes... except that he was not on
board: he was remotely commanding the plane with the custom device prepared
by the engineer. Everybody thinks that he is dead.
Miles and Isobel can drive away undisturbed.
The book becomes a bestseller.
The Odessa File (1974), from Frederick
Forsyth's novel, is a tedious predictable political thriller.
In post-war Germany
a freelance journalist, Peter, is driving through a US city when the radio announces that the president has been assassinated. Because he stopped to listen to that broadcast, Peter sees an ambulance drive by with its siren on.
Professional curiosity makes him follow the ambulance and so he finds out that
an elderly Holocaust survivor has committed suicide.
Peter lives with his girlfriend Ziggy, a sexy stripper.
The following day a friend, Karl, gives him a present: the diary of the old man who
committed suicide, Solomon. His diary is a detailed chronicle of what happened
to the Jewish prisoners of a concentration camp run by a brutal Nazist captain
who enjoyed humiliating and butchering human beings.
Peter can't stop reading. He eventually learns that one of the victims of
the beastly captain was... his own father. He talks to his mother, who tries
to dissuade him from digging the truth. Peter meets up with a friend of Solomon,
another old survivor. This old man tells Peter that Solomon tried to track down
the captain, who is still alive, but paid with his life because he became a
threat to a secret organization called "Odessa". When Peter tells of his
investigation to his friend Karl, even Karl becomes hostile.
Peter talks to the man in charge of organization that is supposed to hunt down
Nazists but realizes that the man himself is a member of a shady organization.
Peter infiltrates their meeting and hears a speech that is clearly inspired
by Nazism. He tries to take a picture but is escorted outside, beaten and his
camera is smashed. We hear the leaders of the neo-Nazi party discuss their
plans to provide Egypt a weapon of mass destruction to use against Israel.
The following day someone pushes Peter under a subway train in front of his
girlfriend, and he barely escapes death. Peter visits a Jewish hunter of
former Nazi officials who tells him that
"Odessa" simply means "Organization for former Members of the SS".
Later Peter is kidnapped by agents of Israel who want to recruit him.
Meanwhile the Nazis send a hitman to kill Peter and first thing he finds
his girlfriend who barely manages to escape. The police forces her to accept
a female agent in her home until Peter returns.
Peter accepts the offer of the Israelis: become an undercover agent, posing
like a Nazi so that he can join Odessa. He is accepted and risks his life
to obtain the file with the addresses of all the members: one of them is
the captain who killed his father. Peter tells the Israelis that he has
achieved the mission but refuses to give them the whole file until they
help him deal with his father's murderer. He finally calls his girlfriend
and tells her to meet him secretely. He tells her everything that happened.
Peter finds and follows the captain to the secluded castle where he lives.
Peter breaks into the castle and confronts the butcher.
Instead of just killing him, Peter starts talking and so he gives the old
captain a chance to grab a gun, but Peter is faster and kills him (for
legitimate defense, not as an execution).
First Monday in October (1981), idillio-litigio fra due giudici, lui
moderno e progressista, lei conservatrice e puritana, su questioni giuridiche e affettive.
Foreign Body (1986) e` la storia di un umile impiegato di
Calcutta che diventa un prestigioso dottore a Londra.