Dumb and dumber: Weekend mag’s piss-poor movie listings

WORST MOVIE EVER MADE? Critic Leslie Halliwell named the British film Fire Maidens from Outer Space as a contender. The Americans decided to change the ‘from’ in the title to ‘of’ for some inexplicable reason

Our spotty intern MULDOON reckons the film listings in the Daily Mail's Weekend magazine leave room for improvement

Before I met the stringent intelligence test/interaction in social situations/interview criteria which are part of the Daily Drone’s rigorous recruitment strategy (Eh? — Ed) I flirted (briefly) with what my mother, the redoubtable Elvira, was fond to describe as the “film industry”.

This, naturally, meant working at my local multiplex, dispensing nachos, popcorn and brightly-coloured jelly beans before screenings — and sweeping up the debris afterwards.

But it did engender my love for film and, in particular, The Golden Age of British Cinema, roughly the thirties through to the sixties.

In those days, though, a visit to the flicks meant viewing, among the trailers and newsreels, the Double Feature: the main film, preceded, of course, by the much derided B Picture.

So for every Brief Encounter, The Third Man or The 39 Steps (1935 Robert Donat version) there was some execrable, forgettable dross knocked up on some suburban studio’s back lot.

Famously, this included the 1956 low-budget Fire Maidens from Outer Space (in which a car is, inadvertently, seen traversing one of Jupiter’s moons). It was described by film critic Leslie Halliwell as “a strong contender for the title of the worst movie ever made”.

Forgettable though? Not a bit of it. Three years ago a film buff family, supposedly anxious to save some of the more obscure titles from being lost, launched Talking Pictures TV (motto: We’ve Bought ‘em, So We’ll Show ‘em) which screens classics of the oeuvre 24 hours a day (Freeview, channel 81; Freesat 306; Sky 328; Virgin 445).

But it’s TPTV’s bad luck that their wares are mainly advertised through the irony-free zone that is the Daily Mail Weekend Magazine’s programme notes department where, for example, they sum up a 1974 adaptation of Dickens’s Great Expectations, one of the greatest and most profound novels in the English language, as: “Michael York’s life is changed dramatically by an encounter with an escaped convict.”

So here, through the piss-poor prism of Weekend in recent weeks, are some examples of B movies dumbed down.

Roll up and form an orderly queue: it’s The Leaden Age of British cinema.

Here Come The Huggetts (1948). U. A family encounters all kinds of problems when they have their first telephone installed at home.

The Gay Dog (1954). U. Wilfred Pickles stars as Jim Gay, a man with a dog in this jolly British comedy. His greyhound, Raving Beauty, might just win him pots of cash.

Idol on Parade (1959). PG. A pop singer causes mayhem when he is forced to spend two years serving in the Army.

A Kid For Two Farthings (1955). U. A six-year-old boy believes his pet goat is a unicorn with power to make wishes come true.

Brandy For The Parson (1952). U. A couple offer a stranger a lift after his boat sinks.

Go to Blazes (1961). U. Ex-convicts become firemen intending to use the engine to help them pull off robberies.

The Rough and the Smooth (1959). PG. Melodrama.

Good Morning Boys (1937). U. A schoolmaster is duped into helping to steal the Mona Lisa.

The Bulldog Breed (1960). PG. Heartbroken grocer seeks to escape his misery by joining the Navy where he ends up being trained to become an astronaut.

Conflict of Wings (1954). U. Norfolk villagers fight to stop a bird sanctuary being turned into an RAF firing range.

The Magnet (1950). U. A boy steals a magnet which gets him into all sorts of trouble.

John and Julie (1953). U. Two children run away to London to watch the coronation of Elizabeth II and have a series of adventures along the way.

The Early Bird (1965). U. Gormless but plucky milkman strives to save his dairy from being taken over.

Double Bunk (1960). PG. Newlywed couple have a series of misadventures while living in a leaky old houseboat moored on the Thames.

The Body Vanished (1939). PG. Police inspector goes on holiday with a journalist friend.

Child’s Play (1954). PG. A gang of kids uses a chemistry set to split the atom - and invent a new kind of popcorn.

The Extra Day (1956). PG. A movie producer has to reunite everyone involved in the final scene of a film after the footage goes missing.

Laxdale Hall (1953). U. A parliamentary delegation is dispatched from London to the Scottish Highlands.

Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973). 18. A strange force transforms women into bizarre, sex-crazed creatures.

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre