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My daughter is studying this for her English GCSE, and I thought it would assist her in watching the film. Like the saying goes 'a picture paints a thousand words' and my thoughts were that there may be times whilst sitting her exam she could picture certain scenes.
I purchased the DVD, with the intention of watching it together. If I was totally honest, I really thought it was going to be a case of 'enduring' the film, rather than 'enjoying' it, however this turned out not to be the case.
I won't go into too much detail because there are thousands of pages on the net, explaining the 'ins and outs' of every scene. Needless to say that the film is black and white, and was based on a book by J Priestly. The era was 1912, and all the dress, transport etc also dates to this time period.
The film itself is centred on the death of a young girl. Was she murdered? Did she commit suicide? The centre of the investigation was on a prosperous Middle (some would say Upper) Class family, who owned a Mill and Textile Company.
The story starts when the eldest daughter and her fiancee were celebrating their engagement, at home with her Mother, Father and Brother, over dinner and drinks. Whilst doing this 'Inspector Goole' walked in uninvited, and started to question the family over the death. The actor Alastair Sim played the part of an Inspector in such a clever way.
The film was set over one evening with flash backs going back the previous 18 months, telling the story how certain members of the family had been involved with the deceased girl.
I must say that there are some morals to be learnt from the story, and in fact this is what the original author hoped to portray, when he wrote the book. My daughter says that the book, has so much more to it than the film itself, and in fact there were large sections missing, but the story was still very much the same.
The settings, like with most black and white films, are extremely basic. However it is sentiment to the film itself, that it actually kept you so interested throughout.There is also a big twist at the end of the film, that I had just not seen coming.
I would certainly recommend this film if it comes on TV, or if you can get hold of the DVD cheap. The £10 I paid was probably a bit steep, and I wouldn't have bought it, if it wasn't for my daughters education. But I was certainly glad I watched it, and I hope I have learnt a few morals along the way.
Copyright stebiz 2010 - also on ciao.co.uk
I first studied An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley at school, and really enjoyed it. I later found the film and had to buy it. The film stars Alastair Sim and was released in 1954.
The plot is as follows...
In 1912 the upper-class Birling family are holding a dinner party, however they are interrupted by the arrival of Police Inspector Poole. He is investigating the suicide of a lower class girl named Eva Smith. Her death is ultimitely revealed to be linked to each family member.
The family consist of Arthur Birling and Sybil Birling who are the mother and father. Their two children are Sheila and Eric and the party is also being attended by Sheila's fiance, Gerald Croft.
Who out of the family is actually to blame or through a series of circumstances are they all to blame. Or is it in fact all an elaborate set up.
The film has a classification of PG with a running time of 77 minutes. Just to note that there are no special features this is probably due to the age of the film.
The Inspector played brilliantly by Alastair Sim is both eerie and mysterious, you never quite know what he will say or do next. All of the characters have flaws and the plot reveals them all as each character comes under scrutiny. The film flows well as throughout the evening the truth finally emerges.
I can't really say much about the ending but there are plenty of twists and turns before the film finishes. I will say that the ending in a way is left up to the viewer to make their mind up as to what happened.
The film creates an eerie atmosphere and is definitely suspenseful with a great story. Most of the film is played out in the Birling's sitting room but this doesn't ruin the film. It makes it even more watchable as the viewer feels slightly trapped just like the Birling family. The film has a moral story to it and is a classic that must be watched!
The Birlings, a wealthy family, are sitting down to dinner to celebrate the engagement of Sheila to Gerald Croft. Brother Eric is getting slowly plastered across the table, while Mr and Mrs Birling try and ignore the fact that anything is wrong. Then a guest is announced - an Inspector - who tells the Birlings that he has come to ask some questions about a girl, Eva Smith, who recently committed suicide. At first, the Birlings and Gerald Croft deny knowing her, but it slowly comes out that each of them did know her and each of them held some blame for her death, unbeknownst to the rest of the family. Will this knowledge change the Birlings' perceptions of a girl from a lower class? Or will they continue to refuse to take any blame?
I have long wanted to watch this film, based on the play by J B Priestley, and was delighted when I finally received a copy. I have to admit that I have never read the play and so didn't know what to expect - I imagined it was the story of a murder that the visiting Inspector was trying to solve - but it is a lot more than just the simple tale of an investigation, because it looks at class differences and the way that people of a lower class are treated.
The Inspector is played by the brilliant Alastair Sim, who I remember primarily from the St Trinian's films. This role is anything but funny and in fact is perfect for Hallowe'en - although purportedly a police officer, there is something very creepy about the way that he seems to know everything about everyone. There is also something commanding about his performance, which makes it totally understandable that the Birlings should listen to him rather than throwing him out of the house. I found his performance mesmerising and, despite the fact that the film was made in 1954, was set even earlier and is in black and white, it is one that stands out even by modern standards.
Eva Smith was slighted by the Birlings and Gerald Croft in more ways than one, but Jane Wenham's portrayal of her is head and shoulders above them. We see Eva in a series of flashbacks, under different names, but in each, it is clear that she is a woman of restricted means who has her pride and refuses to be a doormat. Wenham, an actress with whom I am not familiar, does Eva proud; it is clear that she is suffering, but refuses to accept charity or defeat...until the last moment that is.
Of the others, there are two performances that stood out for me. One is Olga Lindo as Sybil Birling, a woman who is proud of her status and much too proud to think of the feelings of the lower classes. Her behaviour is reprehensible and utterly convincing - I wanted to throw something at her. The other is Eric Birling, played by Bryan Forbes. He has an affair with Eva and gets her pregnant, but is then too cowardly to do anything about it. Despite this, he is clearly affected by her news and starts to drink even more than before. Again, this is a really good performance that I found completely compelling and natural.
I have heard much about An Inspector Calls, both the film and the original play, and I know that it is on many a school curriculum and that many will have had to study it to death. I am not writing an essay; nor have I studied the play in detail, but there is an obvious theme coming out of this - class differences and the way that those who consider themselves of a higher class can shrug off the feelings, and to an extent, the very existence, of anyone from the lower classes. Although society today is very different, there is an important message - don't judge before you know the full truth - and this is something that is just as relevant today as it was back then - although it may not just be class that is the problem. But I am beginning to sound like a teacher, so back to the film.
The set is very simple - it revolves around the dining room and hall of the Birlings. This is ideal as a backdrop for the story, because there is nothing to distract the eye from the performances of the characters and it is this, after all, that makes the film so strong. In many ways, the fact that the film is in black and white is an advantage, because again, it forces the eye to concentrate on the acting. There is a colour version of An Inspector Calls, made in the 1980s, but I would really recommend watching this version.
The pacing of the film is superb and although the director cannot perhaps be entirely congratulated with this, he has at least adapted it from the play very well. We start out by finding out that a woman is dead, but have no idea how the Birlings, a respectable family, can possibly be involved. We are then fed the story bit by bit and in a way that I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next - just as I thought one person had behaved badly, I found out that the next in line was just as bad. Then, the ending to the film provides the audience with a totally unexpected twist - and just as I thought that was it, another one came.
It is rare that a film meets with my expectations. This one did. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish, and then I played it all the way through again - something that I don't think I have ever done. If that is not a recommendation for this film then I don't know what is. I highly recommend it.
It appears that the DVD is now a collector's item - it is available on Amazon from £45.75 - although I have found a copy on ebay for £2, which I am about to buy. Shop around, it's worth it.
Running time: 80 minutes
A young girl is murdered, and an Inspector calls on a prosperous Yorkshire household investigating the sad circumstances behind her death. Each one of the family has a secret - and each one is partly responsible for the girl's fate. The determined Inspector must prove their collective guilt and the shattering denouncement reveals why. An adaptation of J.B. Priestley's classic play.