ALASTAIR SIM DOUBLE FEATURE #4
his 1949 British film told a very plausible story about a triangle between a woman, her soldier husband, and her new lover. Jim Colter (John Mills) has joined the services, leaving his wife Tillie (Joy Shelton) with his mother (Beatrice Varley) and sister. Tillie is lonely, meets Ted Purvis (Steward Granger), and falls for him.
It turns out that Purvis is a small-time crook and swindler and falsified his medical records in order to avoid serving in the war. Jim finds out about the affair and deserts the war to return homeand settle matters. But he is set upon and beaten by Purvis' hoodlum buddies. Unchastened, Jim goes after Purvis, and they engage in a climactic fist fight as bombs are dropping during a Nazi air raid. The entire story is played out against the noisy backdrop of a country at war. It was based on a story by director Sidney Gilliat
THE GREEN MAN with Terry Thomas
Alistair Sim plays a mild, innocuous little watchmaker who spends his off-hours as a professional assassin. His present target is windbag cabinet member Raymond Huntley. After various misfire attempts, Sim plants a bomb in a small radio and waits for the tube to warm up--but the authorities by now are on to him.The Green Man has some excellent setpieces, notably a droll snatch of black humor involving a body stuffed in a piano. The film's only debit is that, in the play upon which it is based, Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat's Meet the Body, Sim's character is secondary, almost peripheral. By reshaping the film into a star vehicle, much of the play's intimate (albeit ghoulish) charm is dissipated.
Technically another '50s farce, with an elaborate plot line encompassing any number of silly complications, an overlay of sex (in the form of "naughty" jokes and shots of the heroine in a nightgown), and characters whose very names (Sir Gregory Upshoot and Charles Boughtflower) tell the audience all they need to know about them. If all it had was technique, The Green Man would be indistinguishable from any number of other similar films.
Fortunately, it's informed with an irreverent black sense of humor which makes it stand somewhat apart from these other films. More importantly this movie has the droll, irreplaceable Alastair Simon hand. If one is going to make a comedy about an assassin, it's an excellent idea to hire Sim to portray that assassin. Whether putting up with the mind-numbing conversations of hotel guests or dealing with a frustrating vacuum cleaner salesman, Sim is a joy and a delight. One is quite happy to overlook the fact that he is a cold-blooded killer. Next to Sim, the rest of the cast pales,Terry-Thomas excepted, but they're all quite capable and do more than hold up their end of the movie.