An Inspector Calls (1954)
Sim the Sin Revealer
The year is 1912, industry is moving at great pace and no one can believe that there will ever be another war. At the Birling household they have gathered for a dinner to celebrate the engagement of their eldest daughter Sheila (Eileen Moore) to Gerald (Brian Worth) when all of a sudden Inspector Poole (Alastair Sim) appears in the dinning room. He comes to inform that a woman has died, suicide by poisoning and she is connected to the Birling family and Inspector Poole suspects that the Birlings as individuals may have all played a part in her death.
Back during the late 80s when I was in school I had to read "An Inspector Calls" for English Literature. Sadly back in the late 80s education in Britain sucked as it was dry, uninvolving and simply dull as text books were followed, books were read but their was no discussion, just a series of set things to learn because that was how it was always done. It is why having read "An Inspector Call" as a teenager it did nothing for me and why having now watched "An Inspector Calls" it still sadly did nothing for me.
So as to this 1954 big screen adaptation of J.B. Priestley's play, well it expands on things by showing how each of the Birling family were connected to the woman who killed herself. We see how the woman was sacked by Mr. Birling after complaining they weren't being paid enough whilst we also learn that both Gerald and Eric Birling had relationships with the woman. The whole time we get painted this picture of a family who are oblivious that their actions may have any detrimental effect on this woman.
Of course this all builds up to... well I am not going to say as I am sure there will be those who watch "An Inspector Calls" without having read the book or watch because they are supposed to read the book for class and try to take a shortcut by watching the movie instead.
The thing is that whilst the storyline doesn't do a great deal for me the performances through out are first rate. Arthur Young as Mr. Birling is perfect as the patriarch who is a selfish businessman who has one eye on awards and social status whilst Eileen Moore is good as Shelia, the spoilt daughter. Plus there is Bryan Forbes who as the drink loving Eric brings to the screen the weight of family expectation. But it is Alastair Sim who makes the movie because as Inspector Poole he brings that aspect of a man who knows and who is almost toying with those he is questioning. He has that mischievous glint in his eye and the command of words which make every single scene he is in a simple delight. Plus of course when you finish watching "An Inspector Calls" you will realise how perfect Sim is for the role of the Inspector.
What this all boils down to is that if you are a fan of the story "An Inspector Calls" I am sure you will love this big screen version. But even those who haven't read the book or found the book just okay will find this movie enjoyable due to the first rate performances through out.
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