Diana Dors ”¨’The Great Game’ and ‘Miss Tulip Stays The Night’ ”“ The Adelphi Collection DVD

The buxom, alluring movie star Diana Dors embodied British rock ”˜n’ roll flash before such an entity as British rock ”˜n’ roll even existed.   By the early 1950’s, the bottle blonde ”˜Miss Tits and Lips’ Dors brought more glamour, acidic sass and saucy sexiness to British cinema than seemed decent in the drab, dour days after Britain’s pyrrhic victory in World War II.  ”¨Yet the graduate of the Rank Charm School had been born mousey Diana Mary Fluck on 23rd October 1931 in Swindon, hardly the glamour capital of the world. But as the larger than life Diana Dors she could more than match the star wattage power of America’s Mamie Van Doren, Jayne Mansfield or even the iconic Marilyn Monroe. ”¨Castigated by The Church of England, the tabloids and high society, the blonde bombshell Diana Dors (who described herself as: “The only sex symbol Britain has produced since Lady Godiva”).

'The first British sex symbol' - Diana Dors DVDs reviewed
'The first British sex symbol' - Diana Dors DVDs reviewed

was both of her time (the 1950’s) and a harbinger of the new open sexual attitudes and public frankness of Swinging London in the 1960’s.  Consequently, the very musicians who went on to create British Rock ”˜N’ Roll loved Diana Dors. She was a featured figure on the front of Beatles’ iconic Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, The Kinks would dedicate a song to her (”˜Good Day’) and The Smiths’ 1995 compilation Singles would feature Dors in a scene from her most celebrated dramatic movie and performance, as a convicted murderess in Yield To The Night (1956).

Dors would issue her own classic lounge core easy listening album in 1960, Swinging Dors. ”¨Even pro punk legends The New York Dolls would acknowledge a kindred flaming spirit by name checking Diana Dors on their song ”˜It’s Too Late’, on their appropriately entitled second 1974 album, Too Much Too Soon.  Disastrous marriages, doomed attempts to ”˜make it’ in Hollywood, links with The Kray Twins, bankruptcies, common distain for her ”˜tacky’ taste and endless tales of sleazy parities made Dors a punk idol too: Adam Ant used the actress, playing a shimmering fairy godmother to Adam’s male Cinderella, for his 1981 highly successful pantomime style video, ”˜Prince Charming’.”¨The black and white films that are featured on this dual format edition BFI DVD & Blu-ray disc, from the small UK Adelphi studio, a family business run by Arthur Dent and his producer son Davis and business manager Stanley, are from the beginning of the then Dors’ career. The Great Game is an agreeable comic drama of football league corruption that dates from 1953, directed by Maurice Elvey and shot on location at Griffin Park, historic home of Brentford F.C which even features guest appearances from some of the team’s players.

The Great Game features pleasing performances from James Hayter as Burnville United’s unprincipled team chairman, the immortal Thora Hird as his long-suffering assistant, and Diana Dors, whose acting style is far more contemporary than the rest of the cast, having great fun playing lascivious secretary Lulu to perfection.

During one memorable scene Dor’s Lulu feigns fainting in order to be carried over the heads of the football match spectators to get a better view of the match. The mostly male crowd are obviously very keen to help her progress. Dors’ svengali manager/husband Dennis Hamilton can be seen in the shot, trying in vain to ensure that no liberties are taken with his starlet. An altercation Hamilton has with a serviceman looks all too convincing.
With a fabulous eyeball-rolling turn from Dad’s Army’s the late, great John ”˜We’re are all doomed’ Laurie ”“ the final result is a highly nostalgic Saturday afternoon picture custom built for Dors aficionados, movie buffs and football fans with an interest in history.

Miss Tulip Stays the Night (1955) is an enjoyable whodunit, a stagey, low budget murder mystery directed by the veteran Leslie Arliss. Gorgeous Kate Dax (Diana Dors) and her crime-writer husband, Andrew (Patrick Holt), investigate the murder of unconventional spinster Miss Tulip (Cicely Courtneidge) at a remote country cottage. With the help, or rather obstruction, caused by the blundering of P.C. Feathers, adeptly played by British comedy stalwart Jack Hulbert, will they ever break their ridiculous case and finally solve the mystery? Though the plot relies upon a very grating dramatic device worthy of an episode of Midsomer Murders (the TV series obviously looked back at Adelphi pictures such as Miss Tulip Stays The Night for inspiration), but the luminescent, sensuous Dors and the distinguished supporting cast of Holt, Joss Ambler, Pat Terry-Thomas and comedy veteran A.E. Matthews, elevate the material and compensate for Arliss’ periodically frankly shoddy direction.

Newly mastered to High Definition from the original film elements preserved at the BFI National Archive, the films look incredible for their age. They are also presented with an illustrated booklet containing film notes, remarkable original promotional materials and new essays, including a look at Diana Dors’ clothes and style by film archivist Jenny Hammerton.

The Great Game and Miss Tulip Stays The Night were the typical comedy drama-farce pictures that Dors’ agent/ first husband Dennis Hamilton would lock her into performing in. Hamilton for Dors was like a cross between Colonel Tom Parker and Malcolm McLaren, but lacking either their expertise or sustained success. He introduced Dors to a scene of sex parties featuring two-way mirrors and blue movies.  The standard of the pictures in which she appeared was of no consequence, just as long as her face and name kept appearing in the tabloid newspapers and that she performed in high paying variety shows and light entertainment packages.  Dors evident thespian talent was sacrificed for Hamilton’s credo; “To hell with all that acting rubbish!” ”¨It is such a terrible disappointment that Dors really attained so few heavyweight roles, including J Lee Thompson’s Yield To The Night, another prison drama for Thompson, The Weak and The Wicked (1954), and Carol Reed’s A Kid For Two Farthings (1955).

Or that she didn’t star in a British Rock ”˜N’ Roll picture like Jayne Mansfield’s The Girl Can’t Help It.  But the British motion picture business never produced a Rock ”˜n’ Roll picture to rival The Girl Can’t Help It.  The year in which Is Your Honeymoon Really Necessary was released, 1953, Marilyn Monroe was in Hollywood shooting Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the picture that would make her an international star, eclipsing Dors for good. ”¨By the end of the 1950’s, Dors’ attempt at a Hollywood career lay in ruins. This was primarily due to Dennis Hamilton beating up a Hollywood photographer, who Hamilton thought had thrown himself and his wife into the swimming pool.  The event was a Dors housewarming party that was meant to welcome the couple into Hollywood’s inner circle.  The result was Diana Dors was given the unflattering nickname Marilyn Bovril.  A steamy affair with Method actor Rod Steiger, on the set of The Unholy Wife further damaged her stateside image.  And when the film was released in 1956, the critics thundered as one; “An unholy mess!””¨However, to watch her effervescent comedic performance in both The Great Game and Miss Tulip Stays The Night is to be reminded that Diana Dors had her own stoic, sardonic, humorous outlook on her whole career, very different from the self-pity of Monroe’s.

In 1964, Diana Dors issued her first Rock ”˜N’ Roll single for the Fontana label. The record, which was heavily influenced by the currently fashionable ”˜Mersey Beat sound’, was ironically entitled, ”˜It’s Too Late’/’So Little Time’.  Diana Dors died of cancer on 4th May 1984, aged 52.

At the time of her death, Diana Dors had not made a successful film for nearly thirty years. Yet she was still viewed with affection by many as the quintessential iconic British movie starlet.”¨”¨Diana Dors BFI DVD’s The Great Game and Miss Tulip Stays The Night released together on 5th December 2011, on dual format edition DVD & Blu-ray.

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