Film Review – ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (1975)

BBC Two - All Creatures Great and SmallALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (1975, UK/USA) ***½
Biography, Drama
dist. EMI Film Distributors ; pr co. EMI Film Distributors / Venedon Ltd.; d. Claude Whatham; w. Hugh Whitemore (based on the books by James Herriot); exec pr. Nat Cohen; pr. Duane Bogie, David Susskind; ass pr. Cecil F. Ford; ph. Peter Suschitzky (Colour. 35mm. Spherical. 1.66:1); m. Wilfred Josephs; ed. Ralph Sheldon; pd. Geoffrey Drake; set d. Fred Carter; cos. Yvonne Blake; m/up. Alan Brownie, Ronnie Cogan; sd. Ken Barker, Anthony Jackson, John Poyner, Clive Smith (Mono); rel. 4 February 1975 (USA), 8 May 1975 (UK); cert: PG; r/t. 92m.

cast: Simon Ward (James), Anthony Hopkins (Siegfried), Lisa Harrow (Helen), Brian Stirner (Tristan), Freddie Jones (Cranford), T.P. McKenna (Soames), Daphne Oxenford (Mrs. Pumphrey), Jane Collins (Connie), Glynne Geldart (Joyce), Brenda Bruce (Miss Harbottle), Christine Buckley (Mrs. Hall), John Collin (Mr. Alderson), Jane Solo (Brenda), Harold Goodwin (Dinsdale’s Uncle), Doreen Mantle (Mrs. Seaton), John Nettleton (Head Waiter), Bert Palmer (Mr. Dean (as Burt Palmer)), John Rees (Geoff Mallock), Jenny Runacre (Pamela), Fred Feast (Farmer in Cinema).

Charming pre-WWII story of a young vet (Ward) who joins the practice of the eccentric Hopkins in the Yorkshire Dales. There he meets and courts Harrow and encounters tight-fisted farmers as he comes to terms with life in the country. Whilst the film is largely episodic and inconsequential, the warmth of the characters, the often funny situations they find themselves in and the performances of an enthusiastic cast prove to be a winning mixture. Hopkins is splendid in a role tailor-made for him. There is also great use of the Yorkshire locations. Part-funded by and debuted on NBC TV in the USA as part of Hallmark Hall of Fame. Followed by IT SHOULDN’T HAPPEN TO A VET (1976) and a hugely popular TV series running for 90 episodes over 7 seasons from 1978-90 before resurfacing again as a remake in 2020.

Film Review – FIREFOX (1982)

Image result for firefox 1982FIREFOX (USA, 1982) **½
      Distributor: Warner Bros; Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 14 June 1982 (USA), 15 July 1982 (UK); Filming Dates: 26 August – November 1981; Running Time: 136m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Dolby (35 mm prints) | 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints); Film Format: 35mm, 70mm (blow up); Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Alex Lasker, Wendell Wellman (based on the novel by Craig Thomas); Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Associate Producer: Paul Hitchcock; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Maurice Jarre; Music Supervisor: ; Film Editor: Ron Spang, Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty, Mary Selway; Production Designer: ; Art Director: Elayne Barbara Ceder, John Graysmark, Beala Neel; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Christina Smith; Sound: Bub Asman, Alan Robert Murray, Robert G. Henderson; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar; Visual Effects: John Dykstra.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Mitchell Gant), Freddie Jones (Kenneth Aubrey), David Huffman (Captain Buckholz), Warren Clarke (Pavel Upenskoy), Ronald Lacey (Semelovsky), Kenneth Colley (Colonel Kontarsky), Klaus Löwitsch (General Vladimirov), Nigel Hawthorne (Pyotr Baranovich), Stefan Schnabel (First Secretary), Thomas Hill (General Brown), Clive Merrison (Major Lanyev), Kai Wulff (Lt. Colonel Voskov), Dimitra Arliss (Natalia), Austin Willis (Walters), Michael Currie (Captain Seerbacker), James Staley (Lt. Commander Fleischer), Ward Costello (General Rogers), Alan Tilvern (Air Marshal Kutuzov), Oliver Cotton (Dmitri Priabin), Bernard Behrens (William Saltonstall), Richard Derr (Admiral Curtin), Woody Eney (Major Dietz), Bernard Erhard (KGB Guard), Hugh Fraser (Police Inspector Tortyev), David Gant (KGB Official), John Grillo (Customs Officer), Czeslaw Grocholski (Old Man), Barrie Houghton (Boris Glazunov), Neil Hunt (Richard Cunningham), Vincent J. Isaac (Sub Radio Operator), Alexei Jawdokimov (Code Operator), Wolf Kahler (KGB Chairman Andropov), Eugene Lipinski (KGB Agent), Phillip Littell (Code Operator), Curt Lowens (Dr. Schuller), Lev Mailer (Guard at Shower), Fritz Manes (Captain), David Meyers (Grosch), Alfredo Michelson (Interrogator), Zeno Nahayevsky (Officer at Plane), George Orrison (Leon Sprague), Tony Papenfuss (GRU Officer), Olivier Pierre (Borkh), Grisha Plotkin (GRU Officer), George Pravda (General Borov), John Ratzenberger (Chief Peck), Alex Rodine (Captain of the Riga), Lance Rosen (Agent), Gene Scherer (Russian Captain), Warwick Sims (Shelley), Mike Spero (Russian Guard), Malcolm Storry (KGB Agent), Chris Winfield (RAF Operator), John Yates (Admiral Pearson), Alexander Zale (Riga Fire Control Chief), Igor Zatsepin (Flight Engineer), Konstantin Zlatev (Riga Technician).
      Synopsis: The Soviets have developed a revolutionary new jet fighter, so the British send an ex-Vietnam War pilot on a covert mission into the Soviet Union to steal it.
      Comment: Change of direction for Eastwood as he takes on a tale that mixes Alistair MacLean-style high adventure with the spy thriller. Whilst the basis of the plot is plausible it is often executed in a ham-fisted manner, not helped by some telegraphed performances – notably Jones as the caper leader. Eastwood looks uncomfortable with the genre and the script gives him little to work with. He directs efficiently and handles the action sequences well, though the flight chase scenes now look dated.
      Notes: After its initial release, Eastwood recut the film by 13m; this 124m version has aired on cable TV. The story is loosely based on an actual event in which a Soviet fighter pilot (Viktor Belenko) defected to Japan on September 6, 1976. Belenko was stationed in Chuguyekva, Primorsky Krai, RSFSR (Soviet Russia) where he flew a MiG-25 to Hakodate, Japan.