Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cracking Crime on Foreign Soil


What It Was, Was UK Football: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939)

They refer to this English sport as "football," but it looks like soccer they're playing, a backdrop against which investigating eccentric Leslie Banks solves a playing field murder. Some of wit from Hitchcock thrillers bled into light whodunits other UK firms were staging; this one might have led to a series for Banks given easier circumstance, but how could a Brit gumshoe function amidst war and nightly bomb raids? Arsenal in hindsight seems a last stand for genteel detecting among civilized suspects unconcerned over larger issues; interesting to think that most players on its field would be in uniform within months of shooting. The murder is wildly complicated; amidst thick accents and scientific detail, I frankly got lost, though humor came happily to the rescue. The Arsenal Stadium Mystery had to have been an elusive one until VCI unearthed it as part of an ongoing "Rank Collection" of DVD's, quality being fine and well worth purchase.

3 Comments:

Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer expalins it all re Brit football, and related sports:


What it was, was football. That routine of a hillbilly seeing a football game for first time became a freak hit in 1954 for Andy Griffith. Unfortunately, Andy was persuaded to bring it out again in 1975 for the premier of "Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell," where he died a horrible death before a live nationwide audience. Evidently, the country had moved on.

But indeed, that game played by kicking a round ball is generally known as "football" throughout most of the world. Why do we persist in calling it "soccer" then? Well, once upon a time, in England, it was known as "Association Football," to distinguish it from "Rugby Football," the rough, tough game I used to play, with no pads or any protection at all, save for one necessary piece of apparatus. Since a rugby player was known as a "rugger," some wag effected a contraction of the middle letters of "Association" into "soccer." Rugby was the man's game, however. There are fields in southern New Jersey which still carry souvenirs of my participation.

I understand that the game scenes for "Arsenal Stadium Mystery" were actually filmed during the 1938 season, with the Brentford first division club filling in for the fictitious "Trojans." There would have been no bombs falling then, but a different situation entirely prevailed for movie goers in November, 1939, when the film was actually released. It's a pity that it didn't lead to a series for Leslie Banks, who would have brought a special talent to such an eccentric character as Inspector Slade. But the world itself had moved on by that point. There was at least one attempt for a follow-up, however, and it would have been a fascinating opportunity. The director, Thorald Dickinson proposed a "Denham Studio Mystery," which would have incorporated scenes from that studio's failed epic, "I, Claudius." Would it have been like "Charlie Chan at the Opera," with Charles Laughton brought back to reprise his Claudius character, performing very much the function of Karloff's Gravelle? And would it have been too much to hope for a cameo by Merle Oberon, the Messalina of "the epic that never was"? Perhaps she could have been persuaded, if the story concerned the murder of Laughton, with herself unmasked at the end as the killer.

Daniel

10:54 AM  
Blogger James Abbott said...

Banks is terrific in this film -- he is an under-valued player. Oddly enough, Banks played Sherlock Holmes to Nigel Bruce's Watson for Bruce's Hound of the Baskervilles screen test. One wonders what Banks might've made of Holmes.

1:11 PM  
Blogger aldi said...

Dan comments that there were no bombs falling in 1938 but that it was a different situation in November 1939 when the movie was released. Actually the situation remained the same, the Germans didn't begin bombing the UK until September 1940. He's right about football though, that is indeed the usual term with us Brits.

8:20 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016