Ronald Neame
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

6.8 Tunes of Glory (1960)
6.5 Gambit (1966)
5.0 The Odessa File (1974)
7.0 Hopscotch (1979)

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.

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. Golden Salamander (1949), adapted from Victor Canning's novel, is about an archaeologist who gets mixed up with gun runners.

the biopic The Magic Box (1951),

The Card (1952), adapted from Arnold Bennett's novel (1911), 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), adapted from Joyce Cary's novel, narrava il raggiungimento del successo da parte di un artista stravagante stabilitosi su un barcone.

Meanwhile he also directed: The Million Pound Note (1953), based on Mark Twain's story "The Million Pound Bank Note", the spy thriller The Man Who Never Was (1956), The Seventh Sin (1957), adapted from Somerset Maugham's novel "The Painted Veil" (1925), and Windom's Way (1957).

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 Charlie's betrayal.
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 Guinnes.

Escape from Zahrain (1962)

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 Chalk Garden (1964)

Mister Moses (1965), adapted from Max Catto's novel,

A Man Could Get Killed (1966)

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 implementation.

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.

Prudence and the Pill (1968)

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (1968), adapted from Jay Presson Allen's play, 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 femminile).

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.

Scrooge (1970) is a musical.

The disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure (1972), adapted from Paul Gallico's novel, e` la storia di un prete che conduce in salvo i superstiti di un naufragio.

The Odessa File (1974), adapted 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).

Meteor (1979) is a sci-fi movie.

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 world. 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 police. 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 airplanes. 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.

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.

The Magic Balloon (1990)

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