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The X certificate is understandable by contemporary standards: not only is there a sub-plot of overt sexiness, but it also builds to a hauntingly tense and disturbing climax.The resonances with our own deepest fears for the future continue to echo loudly. Largely set in the Express’s Fleet Street office, it focuses on an investigative journalist (played by Edward Judd) attempting to blow the whistle on an Establishment cover-up. Among them was the director Val Guest, who had the wheeze of casting him fictionally in his real-life position in an apocalyptic sci-fi yarn about a nuclear catastrophe that tilts the Earth off its axis and sends it hurtling towards the Sun. “But I want to see it, Grandpa is in it,” I wailed. As the long‑serving editor of the Daily Express, my grandfather Arthur Christiansen had acquired many friends in showbusiness. The film was The Day the Earth Caught Fire, the year 1961.The Big Short, the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' book of the same name about the causes of the financial crisis, opens in UK cinemas this weekend.
Alongside the likes of His Girl Friday, Network and The Sweet Smell of Success, it also stands as one of the great films about journalism – it was lent a rare degree of authenticity by my grandfather’s incidental participation as “Technical Adviser,” and is full of wisecracking alcoholic journos bashing up manual typewriters to meet nicotine‑fuelled deadlines. My grandfather’s performance, however, is sadly excruciating – delivering the dialogue with all the robotic animation of a speak-your-weight machine, he offers an object lesson in why such things should be left to Equity members.Perhaps it’s just as well I didn’t see it aged seven after all.