Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Three Old Men and Some Trains

Following on from last week's little rant abut modern actresses, I'd like to move that theme on by looking at a favourite classic.  While writing about railway themed films a few weeks back, I mentioned one of my all time favourites, "Oh!  Mr Porter".  So of course I had to go and watch it again having reminded myself of it.  After mopping up the tea that I spilled during a belly laugh (I've seen it more than a dozen times and was watching it alone, and still it was laugh out loud funny) I reflected on the timeless nature of the humour.  The funniest bits are so because they are still familiar ideas - pinching from your employer, incompetence at work, getting drunk and old man's underpants  - all well established British comedy staples.  I particularly like the scene where Hay, Marriott and Moffatt try and work out what time the express is due, the clocks having just gone forward for summer time.  They eventually agree that it's not due for another two hours - then of course it appears round the bend, coming towards them at full pelt.  Simple but great.

There is one thing about this 1937 film that the modern film industry would shy away from - and I don't mean the references to the IRA gun-runners.  There would be some discussion about this and perhaps this aspect of the plot would be changed - but it is still a relevant storyline.  No, the one thing that would really scare modern film studios would be the nature of the stars.  Hay, Marriott and Moffatt - an old bloke, an even older bloke and a fat lad.  Not a woman or a thin blonde love interest in sight.  It would never be allowed!  Can you imagine a film like this getting the go-ahead today?  'Who will we market this film to?' they would want to know. 'Surely no females will want to watch it if there are no characters for them to identify themselves with?' Because we are really stupid and only want to watch women in silly shoes going shopping don't we?  The people running modern media are all so keen to fit us into neat pigeon holes that it stifles creativity.  I wonder how many glorious comedies have not been made in recent years because of this pandering to imagined audiences?  Off I go, ranting again.  But, I know, "I'm wasting me time!"
Happy birthday Will Hay and Graham Moffatt.


  1. Hollywood doesn't shy away from using fat or old men otherwise Ray Winstone and Andy Serkis would never be hired again. What you're bang on with is that opposite the fat, old men there is always some glamorous woman. Although Hollywood seems to think that this is fine as nowadays they're not always blonde, are mostly intelligent and are always "feisty". (As an ex-blonde, moderately intelligent, feisty woman I would like to point out I have never been abducted by a fat guy, rescued by a hunk, or been a spy, assassin or had any other interesting job.)
    In summation what we really need is a film where Andy Serkis rescues Bella Emburg, possibly from a villain who doesn't have a cultured European accent, featuring loads of slapstick.

  2. I have no idea who Andy Serkis is, which shows that perhaps I watch so many old films and so few new films I have a skewed idea of modern cinema! But I like the idea of Bella Emberg as a heroine. One who possibly celebrates her rescue with a bag of chips and a pint of stout.