I find this post has been lurking in draft since the end of June, so I think it's about time I posted it, really. I've watched a fair bit in summer and posted less than usual. Anyway, this is a post of various Old Films.
I got another Ealing Rarities collection (Vol 2) for my birthday, and this one was a bit of a disappointment compared to the previous installments. It contained Midshipman Easy
(1935), Brief Ecstasy (1937)
, The Big Blockade
(1942), and The Four Just Men
(1939), and this post has been lurking mainly because I couldn't think what to say about Midshipman Easy
, but I shall solve that by not bothering. The rest of this post I wrote two and half months ago, as is:Brief Ecstasy
was... well. Couple meet for one evening, the guy is a pilot and v stalkery (because he only has one evening), then he flies off somewhere round the world and sends a telegram asking her to marry him (it was a really great evening, okay), which she doesn't get. So, she gets a science degree, but then marries her science professor, who persuades her to go stay at home, because men are basically rubbish, possibly, I'm not sure what else it was trying to say. ( More under here )
Disc 2 contained a WWII propaganda film (Big Blockade), which I didn't feel like watching, so I moved onto The Four Just Men
, which was really enjoyable until the last twenty minutes when suddenly it broke into an unexpected burst of rabid patriotism. I can't blame them too much, because 1939, obviously, but it does feel so off in tone from the rest of it that I can't help wondering if war was declared when they were halfway through making it and they felt obliged to suddenly alter the ending to be properly supporting the war effort. It's all: la la la shenanigans shenanigans WAIT NO I LOVE THE LITTLE COUNTRY LANES GOD SAVE THE KING AND THE BRITISH EMPIRE THE END and Anna's Lee's reporter character fades away in the blast of it. (The first 2/3s are fun, though.)
However, I was particularly amused when one of the four just men (who was an actor) decided to impersonate the evil MP and give a speech in Parliament. It was all v well done, but the MP in question was played by Alan Napier, who was nearly twice the height of everyone else in the 1930s. (IMBD says he was 6"6 and I see no reason to doubt it in this case). It wasn't quite as excellent as that time Patrick McGoohan decided that of all the random impoverished artists in 60s London he was going to impersonate, he should pick David Collings, but it was pretty close.
(Nobody noticed in either case. You have to worry about TV/film people sometimes.)
I also finally got The Stars Look Down
(1940) film starring Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood and directed by Carol Reed, set in a small mining community in the north east. What could possibly go wrong? ( More under here )
Happily, in between all this, I recorded Pride & Prejudice
(1940) off the telly, and this was pretty much an unmitigated delight, although I was rather taken aback by the ending where it suddenly veers sharply away from the book into blink-inducing crack. My least favourite part of this being that Lizzy neither has a letter from Mr Darcy, nor visits Pemberley and thus changes her mind after... er... well, Mr Darcy does get to say some of the letter's content in their argument? Plus, she fancies him. (Fair enough, I suppose.) AND THEN LADY CATHERINE WAS IN CAHOOTS WITH MR DARCY AND EVERYONE GOT MARRIED AT ONCE. EVERYONE. Well, not Lady Catherine but if they'd had one more minute, probably.
However, it truly was a delightful thing and now it's joined the ranks of films that I recorded off the TV to save buying but now clearly need my own copy of anyway. Also I said nobody would ever displace Benjamin Whitrow's Mr Bennet in my heart (the true reason P&P 1995 is forever my favourite) but this one had a very good go at dislodging him by casting Edmund Gwenn (frequently one of the best things about any given 30s film he's in, as far as I'm concerned).