120 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, thought provoking and eerie
There couldn't have been a better inspector, than the brilliant Alastair Sim and a supporting cast of fine, talented actors, makes the story that much more convincing. The entire film, from start to finish, leaves nothing to the imagination. It is a masterpiece! The upper class family, convinced that they are of a better status than those not so fortunate. Doing what they...
Published on 6 April 2005 by UK Filmbuff
3.0 out of 5 stars A Morality Play as Entertainment
An Inspector Calls (1954) was adapted from a play by J B Priestley, a prolific and popular English writer of the 20th century, many of whose writings made it to the silver screen. The film never escapes from its stage origins but as an elegantly produced morality play it succeeds very well. The wonderful (eccentric) Alastair Sim mysteriously appears at a dinner party to...
Published 18 months ago by Petronius
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120 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, thought provoking and eerie,
There couldn't have been a better inspector, than the brilliant Alastair Sim and a supporting cast of fine, talented actors, makes the story that much more convincing. The entire film, from start to finish, leaves nothing to the imagination. It is a masterpiece! The upper class family, convinced that they are of a better status than those not so fortunate. Doing what they can to convince themselves that they have done no wrong, yet their consciences are awakened, when the eerie, calm and knowledgeable inspector enters.
The story flows smoothly; first one, then another, then the entire family gathering, are given an insight into their behaviour and attitude towards those less fortunate than themselves. It is a fascinating insight into the debauch behaviour of the "haves", towards the "have nots". As relevant today as it was then!
It says much about us all! An absolute must see; I've been waiting for years for this film to be released!
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Play, Brilliantly Presented,
First let me correct a major error in the synopsis. The girl is not murdered but commits suicide, a fact stated in almost the first minute of the film and never in question. But because the ending is itself both surprising and thought provoking I shall say no more about the story.
But I will say that it is no hyperbole to describe this film as one of the best ever made. J. B. Priestley seems to translate rather well onto the screen (were I to be reviewing Last Holiday with Alec Guiness I would be very nearly as complimentary, and certainly awarding 5 stars), and in my judgement the way that the capabilities of film have been used to bring the dead girl to life are an improvement. That said, I must add that some friends who saw the play at the theatre before they saw this film have said that they preferred the stage version. As it happens, I saw the film before I saw the play at the theatre and, for all that the theatrical performance was first rate, I prefer the film.
I don't think that Alastair Sim was capable of making a film that was less than excellent, but, just as with Green for Danger - another quite outstanding 5 star film in my opinion - the role of a police inspector brings out the best in him. The main supporting cast are also excellent: the pompous and unfeeling parents, the sensitive children prepared to learn from their mistakes, and the daughter's shallow fiance. The sound and picture are as good as a film of its age could be.
Summarising, this is a DVD that every film fan should have in his collection.
62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eery, haunting, masterful and a must watch.,
Alastair Sim is at his very best, playing the ghostly inspector, interviewing an upper-class family, in pre-First World War England. His masterful acting, combined with a brilliant cast and a script that is extremely believable, ensures that this gripping film holds the viewer's attention, right from start to finish, with that little extra susprise at the conclusion!
I do very much admire Bryan Forbes' portrayal of the alcoholic, uppper-class "boy" ("but he's only a boy", as his mother assures the inspector), while the father is absolutely convinced there won't be a war (perhaps he also believed the Titanic was unsinkable).
Each of the family has a story to tell about how their debauch, aristocratic lives affected a young girl; a girl who was seen as no more than a nuisance and a lower class worker, with no rights and no class. They claim the moral high ground, while their money supports their lifestyle of carefree, happy and irresponsible simplicity; they have wealth and status! The poor girl, eventually, dies under tragic and dubious circumstances and so it is that the eerie inspector calls on the upper-class family. Will his questioning reveal the truth? What IS the truth? Wait until the conclusion to find out and make up your own mind!
Even those that are not inclined to the quality of classic, British films, will find this a story that will command their attention and leave them wanting more!
I have been waiting for a long time, to add this brilliant film to my collection. I am extremely glad to see it is, at long last, being re-released.
57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For school ma'ams and sirs,
By A Customer
Just a quick note if you are buying this to show to your GCSE pupils and you haven't seen it since your school days: the DVD is excellent quality even on a large screen. The Inspector is great and it's good to show the pupils the costumes and setting. It's not entirely faithful to the script though: for a start we have flashbacks showing Eva / Daisy which I think take away some of the mystery (and on a personal level, any sympathy for the character!). And why oh why oh why do they change the Inspector's name to Poole?!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps you guessing,
This great little film is as fresh today as when it was made. Some of the attitudes of the characters can be found nowadays in modern day Britain
This film has a screenplay that is well written and contains a brilliantly understated perfomance from Alastair Sim as well as fine support from the rest of the cast, especially a very young Bryan Forbes.
The story is pretty straightforward but it will keep you guessing right to the end.
I recommend that you buy it, watch it and enjoy it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Priestley’s Powerful Morality Tale,
This 1954 film version, directed by Guy Hamilton, of J P Priestley’s powerful play of the same name – an indictment of early 20th century British class structure (and associated morality) – is, for me, just about as good a 'cinematic adaptation’ of the stage work as I could imagine. In particular, Hamilton’s cast, though almost entirely bereft of 'big-name stars’, is uniformly impressive, being a mix of established theatre actors, emerging cinema talent and, at the film’s titular centre, the great Alastair Sim (in restrained mode, here) as the film’s 'moral guardian’ (or perhaps, 'prosecutor’), the considered Inspector Poole (changed from 'Goole’ in Priestley’s original play).
For this film version, as Sim’s Poole reveals his mysterious 'inside knowledge’ of Priestley’s group of five aristocrats, each of whom have had some form of 'nefarious’ involvement with a working-class girl (who has recently committed suicide according to Poole), each 'backstory’ is shown in flashback, and Jane Wenham’s 'victim’ Eva Smith (or Daisy Renton) is revealed to the audience (unlike the play). Equally, Hamilton’s film lends Poole more of an 'ethereal’ air than does the play, as Sim’s character suddenly appears before us (and, equally abruptly, disappears). As Priestley’s tale of the privileged classes, 'absence of social responsibility’ and unintended consequences unfolds before us, Hamilton’s film also emphasises a 'generation gap’ effect as each of Arthur Young’s hard-nosed capitalist, Arthur Birling, and his 'toffee-nosed’ wife, Olga Lindo’s Sybil (for me, the two most impressive acting turns in the film) show themselves to be the most reluctant to admit to any culpability in relation to Smith’s circumstances, unlike their more remorseful offspring, daughter Eileen Moore’s budding socialite, Sheila, her brother, Bryan Forbes’s drunken 'rebel’, Eric, and Sheila’s fiancé, Brian Worth’s Gerald Croft. Sim is also typically impressive in what is, for him, a reserved role, full of knowing and (increasingly) ominous stares. (Also look out for the great George Cole as the (uncredited) tram conductor).
Of course, Hamilton’s film succeeds or fails on the perceived strength (or otherwise) of Priestley’s 'moral message’ and, for me, this is as compelling as ever (though, arguably, the stage play’s 'hiding’ of some of the details of the narrative increase the imaginative effect, thereby making it still more effective). The final twist in the drama, lending the work the air of 'philosophical tract’, rather than simple narrative, further enhances its (universal) power.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Version of a J B Priestley Play,
I love old, black and white movies and I am facsinated by the development of drama and dramatic writing in the twentieth century. An Inspector Calls has in recent years been seen in a much-lauded, much awarded theatre production directed by Stephen Daldry which is, yet again, undergoing a revival in the UK as I write. This is indeed a unique and imaginative restaging of Pristley's play but, in my view it overlays the original with many intrusive elements. This filmed version is beautifully and simply done and is an authentic version (even though to some degree an adaptation) of Priestley's play. To some contemporary viewers it may seem old-fashioned, but it is strong on narrative, the story moves forward swiftly, and the acting is exceptionally detailed and controlled. Some performances may seem hoaky by the standards of today, but this in itself is fascinating - and one performance, that of Jane Wenham as the girl everyone else has had a relationship of some kind with, stands out as an exceptional film performance. Also, if you are a fan of Alistair Sim, this film contains one of his best performances.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure class,
I studied the play at school and I have also seen it in the Theatre. But Alistair Sim's performance is the one I can't forget. The way the he dissects the arrogance and detachment of the upper class family, is masterful. Anyone who's read the play, or needs to study it at school or college should buy this. Also, anyone in the field of investigations will enjoy his cool and calculating manner and razor sharp questioning. A classic.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The second greatest performance from Mr Sim,
Edinburgh's other great actor Alastair Sim; wonderful as a head mistress.More wonderful as Scrooge, the best Scrooge of all.
Another greatAlastair Sim film is the Green Man. And in an Inspector Calls as theghostly inspector perhaps his second greatest role.
A strange tail about a dead girl and an entire family who all have a partin her death. An Inspector who makes them all feel guilty. A strange butwonderful film, a story that holds you right up to the final scene.
This is British film at it's best ! Haunting must watch.
Alastair Simwas a great actor. This is a great film, on DVD you can freeze it if youfeel the need to go.....and put the tea on but I think you will forget thetea & be spellbound.
I love this film it would be in my top 20 films ever.
It makes you think after: should YOU behave better to other people?.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab, fab and fab again!,
I first watched this film as a teenager during my English G.C.S.E and loved it. Highly recommended, great acting and a twist at the end worthy of a Tales of the Unexpected episode!
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An Inspector Calls (60th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray]  by Guy Hamilton (Blu-ray - 2014)