An Inspector Calls

“If not a major boxoffice name, J.B. Priestley has been a familiar and well-liked figure in British literary and theatrical circles for years. He worked on film scripts in the early 30s, was a prolific novelist, playwright, political and philosophic commentator, lecturer and radio and TV personality. Hollywood paid attention to Priestley only twice, in the very early thirties, with ‘The Old Dark House' and ‘Dangerous Corner.' He was a good theatrical showman, often quite witty, and had the happy knack of making his not-very-intellectual thinking seem quite profound, thus flattering the egos of the mass audience.

“An Inspector Calls is neither a major nor a minor Priestley play, but a very typical one. It probably works better as a film since, without any real attempt at ‘opening it up' or minimising its concentration on talk, the few exteriors - streets, a bus, shops, a bar - do manage to exploit the pre-World War One milieu very well, and make it unobtrusively richer, visually. It also offers some extremely good ensemble acting, with the two younger women - Jane Wenham and Eileen Moore - coming off exceptionally well. Sim's role is pivotal but not very demanding, and he doesn't try to build it into more than it is. It's a pleasure to watch his confident grace still riveting attention to him, even though all the other players get the share of the emotional outbursts and ‘big' scenes that, by the nature of the play, are denied to him. Its surprise ending is really no surprise at all, and there are constant clues - musically, especially - but it hardly seems to matter since it is a typical Priestley gambit play in which what happens is far less important than how it happens, and especially how it is told in terms of good dialogue and good acting.”

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.