December 16th, 2007

Alastair Sims

We watched the great Alastair Sims in a Christmas Carol last night, the best version of the story, as far as I'm concerned. Which brought to mind other excellent Sims performances. Inspector Cockrill in Green for Danger. Steven Potter in School for Scoundrels (not to be confused with the horrid Billy Bob Thornton vehicle, but the excellent Brit comedy featuring Terry Thomas and Ian Carmichael) and so on. I think the best Sims performance may be as the fake psychic, Mr. Squales, in London Belongs to Me, a movie I've only seen once, during a retrospective on the work of Sydney Gilliat, who made a number of terrific British crime movie. London Belongs to Me is equal parts comedy. suspense thriller, a chunk of social realism on the eve of WW2, and a psychological drama. Here Sims is a nasty fellow, a con man who has persuaded one Mrs. Vizzard of his powers and convinced her to marry him. The scene is a South London boarding house and the other tenants--a young criminal (Richard Attenborough), a revolutionary socialist, a carnival worker, a cloakroom attendant, etc, are all featured equally. It's a wonderful movie, and I really wish I had a DVD of it. Sims has to go down with Peter Lorre as one of the oddest personnas ever to make a mark in the movies. I tried to think of others who could rival this pair but couldn't manage it. Bobcat Goldtwaite, maybe, but he didn't make that much of a mark. There must be others who would qualify, I just can't come up with them.


Anyway, Sim does a great Scrooge and if you haven't seen it, you do well to correct that lack.