Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Back in 2007, TCM got the rights to six movies made at Teddington Studios, which was the British arm of Warner Bros. Those six movies are airing tomorrow morning on TCM. Before I go into any detail about the pictures, these are what were known as "quota quickies". Around 1927, the UK, dealing with an influx of product from Hollywood, decided that the best way to help the British film industry was to engage in a bit of protectionism. They set up a quota system whereby, for every foreign film shown, theaters would have to show a British movie as well. The Hollywood studios got around it, more or less, by setting up production arms in Britain, and then churning out films even more quickly than the assembly-line style of B movies got produced in Hollywood in the 1930s. The studios made the movies on the cheap, and not overly long either. The films were never intended to be shown outside of the UK, but some of them were found in an archive, including these six from Warner Bros.' British operation; it's these that TCM is showing tomorrow.

The morning kicks off at 6:00 AM with Something Always Happens. Ian Hunter, who would later go on to play in Warner Bros.' Hollywood production of A Midsummer Night's Dream a year after this and then play King Richard in The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938, plays a down-on-his-luck salesman who, along with a kid he's gotten custody of, comes up with an idea to turn a chain of petrol stations into full-service rest areas of the sort you'd see on American Interstate highways. He meets a woman (Nancy O'Neil), not knowing she's actually rich, and pitches the idea to her father, not knowing that he is her father. Dad refuses, so Hunter goes to a competitor, who likes the idea. To complicate matters, Hunter hires O'Neil, who is kind of working for the competition and kind of being a double agent. The movie starts off slowly, but once Hunter starts pitching the idea for the rest areas, the movie really picks up, and zips along for the remainder of its 70 minutes. More interesting, the movie was directed by Michael Powell, a few years before he woulc go on to critical acclaim for The Edge of the World. (Powell apparently hated having to do these "quota quickies".)

Powell also directed Crown vs. Stevens, which will be airing at 10:00 AM. Patric Knowles (later Will Scarlett in The Adventures of Robin Hood) plays a man who gets involved with a loan shark to pay for a ring he bought for his would-be fiancée. This leads him to find his miserly boss' wife is also in hock to the loan shark, and is willing to kill not only him, but other men as well! Another one with a short running time, but a lot of fun twists and turns.

In between the two is the well-made police procedrual Crime Unlimited at 7:15 AM, follwed at 8:30 AM by Man of the Moment, with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. having to choose between his society girlfriend and a young woman he saves from drowning.

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