British Cinema, Romance

Brief Encounter (1945)

 

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Alec takes the grit from Laura’s eye. Screenshot by me.

Undoubtedly this film is one of the greatest British classics. Brief Encounter is an intimate romantic drama that has long held a place in my heart.

This story of two married people falling in love, but being unable to get together because they’re plagued by feelings of guilt is a film that is hard to forget. I love that these characters have an inner decency which makes them not fully give in to their feelings, however much they actually want to be able to do so.

This story has been imitated many times since: Falling In Love, The 7.39(TV), and even a remake starring Richard Burton and Sophia Loren. Although enjoyable, none of these will ever come close to this original version in my opinion.

Laura(Celia Johnson)and Alec(Trevor Howard)meet at a railway station, and keep running in to one another. A friendship develops which soon becomes something more. The catch is both are married to someone else, and neither wants to hurt their spouse. Neither can deny their feelings and they will both have to decide whether to begin a relationship or not.

We feel for them both so much, and because they resist their feelings, this makes them even more sympathetic because they can’t deny the attraction, but they will not just go straight ahead and act on it. If they had fell into each others arms and ran off together, I highly doubt this film would be getting discussed so much today.

It is the realism and bittersweet quality of the film which has made it a classic in my opinion. If this had been made in Hollywood, I don’t doubt that there would have been a happy and very romantic ending. While that ending would certainly have pleased audiences and fed in to the romantic ideal of a happy ending, it just wouldn’t have been realistic. In real life people don’t begin love affairs so easily and such relationships can be painful and messy. I also like how the films depiction of Laura and Alec’s meetings and growing feelings never feels contrived; their meetings and developing bond throughout the film feels real and believable.

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Celia Johnson as Laura. Screenshot by me.

Brief Encounter is directed by David Lean, and is based on Noel Coward’s stage play, Still Life(which was set entirely in a railway waiting room). Lean wisely expanded the action beyond the train station, giving us glimpses of Laura’s home life with loving, but slightly dull husband (Cyril Raymond), and meetings in town between Alec and Laura.

In many scenes this film could almost be seen as a Silent film, there are many moments where the camera is close in on Celia’s face and we hear her characters thoughts, fantasies, desires in a narration; while all this is going on Celia has to also express what we hear through her expressions, and she does so expertly.

There is also another prominent couple in this film, Albert (Stanley Holloway) and Myrtle(Joyce Carey)the station master and station café manager; they enjoy an open, flirtatious relationship, whilst never seeming to ever become a couple (like Alec and Laura). These scenes also serve as some comic relief in an otherwise serious and emotional story. Margaret Barton is also good as the young café assistant(I believe she is now the only surviving cast member.)

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Alec and Laura discuss their growing feelings. Screenshot by me.

My heart breaks for Alec and Laura every time I watch this. It is obvious that they would be good for one another, and it seems to us that they genuinely do care for each other. I admire their moral strength though in not giving in to their hearts desire, that only makes me like them and pity them more.

Can you imagine how hard it must be to give up what you want most, and just walk away? That takes some real strength and determination, not everyone can be so strong in life.

The use of Rachmaninov’s music was an inspired choice I think. Today that music and this film are inseparable in many peoples minds. The music fits the film perfectly.

My favourite scenes are the following. Their cinema visits. The scene in the flat. Laura’s fantasy in the train window. The first(and as it turns out) final scene in the café and the “you know what’s happened, don’t you?” scene.

I love this scene for the story and performances, but I also enjoy watching to see a bygone era. This is the England of steam trains and to our modern view some extremely cheap prices for everything, from food to cinema tickets.

A bittersweet love story that stays with you long after the film has finished. I have no doubt that this film will continue to be effective for audiences for as long as film survives. I think that is a testament to the abilities of Lean, and all the cast and crew who worked on this.

Please share your thoughts on this timeless love story. Never seen it? Get a copy of this and enjoy this deeply moving film. Be sure to see it on Blu-ray to catch it looking at its best.

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Romance, Unsung Classics

Unsung Classics 1: Paris When It Sizzles (1963)

I’d like to start a series of posts about classic films that I think deserve some more attention. I’m starting with this romantic comedy starring William Holden and Audrey Hepburn.

Quite simply, this is one of the best and funniest films out there about the filmmaking process. Focusing this time on the screenwriting process, this film takes a look at all the film clichés, at how quickly plot ideas can change, and how such ideas even come to be in the first place.

The film is also a very clever mix of genres. At one point it is a thriller, whilst another scene finds us firmly in horror territory. The film also features an hysterical cameo from Tony Curtis, as a young method actor featuring in several of the film scenarios. The film is basically one big in joke about the filmmaking process, and about the people who work in this industry.

Featuring some gorgeous photography in and around Paris, lots of humour and romance, and Holden and Hepburn having a great deal of fun, what’s not to like?

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Richard Benson (William Holden)is a cynical Hollywood screenwriter, a ladies man, who loves a drink or two, and is living in a Paris apartment. Hired months ago to write a new screenplay, he has in fact been spending his time having fun and hasn’t written a word! With his deadline fast approaching he hires secretary Gabrielle(Audrey Hepburn)to help him begin and finish on time.

As he comes up with possible scenarios we actually see his ideas as film scenes on screen, featuring Holden and Hepburn as the various main characters. While all this is going on, Benson is finding himself falling in love with Gabrielle, but does she return his feeling?

Holden has a ball playing various fictional adventurous leading men, and even a charming vampire! Hepburn shows a real gift for comedy as the secretary caught up in imagination, and as various fictional leading ladies.

The vampire grotto sequence is one of my favourites, as a romantic afternoon lunch suddenly takes a turn into the realms of darkness, when Holden’s charming playboy is revealed to be a vampire. It’s funny and ridiculous at the same time and just where is that beautiful waterfall/park they go into? It looks gorgeous, I also like the fountains featured in the final scene.

I also love the scene in the film studio featuring Audrey as a sexy woman of the streets taking a bubble bath on an exotic set.

Great fun, and highly recommended to fans of Holden and Hepburn. This flick deserves to be better known. Spread the word, folks!

If you’re already a fan of this one, please share your thoughts on the film.

 

Classic TV, Science Fiction

The Twilight Zone(1959-1964): Come And Take A Trip With Me

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I love this series! Scary, sad, fascinating, shocking and most of all imaginative. Growing up I had heard and read a lot about this series, but had only ever seen a handful of episodes. That all changed a couple of years ago, when I treated myself to the complete series on Blu-ray(the episodes are beautifully cleaned up). It is now one of my favourite series.

I think this is the most human series I have watched. What I mean by that is it so perfectly captures what it means to be human, our weaknesses, strengths etc.

The series shows the best and worst of humanity. Wouldn’t we all love to offer advice/support to our younger selves? By watching Walking Distance we feel like we have.

By watching No Time Like The Past, we can see that good intentions may not be possible or even advisable. Sometimes our desire for self preservation gets the better of us, watch The Shelter for a prime example of this.

Created by Rod Serling, the series first came into being with a script written by Serling, called The Time Element. This unofficial pilot episode was aired on the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, in November 1958. Martin Balsam(who would also feature in the official series)and William Bendix were the stars. This story of a man who claims to be able to time travel back to Pearl Harbor just before the infamous attack, sets the tone for the series we all know today.

The official series aired a year later and would continue until 1964. The series is primarily classed as Science Fiction, featuring many stories of time travel, alien invaders and alien worlds. I like many of those episodes, but my personal favourites are the creepy ones; episodes such as The Grave, Thirty- Fathom Grave, The Hitch-Hiker(the first episode I ever saw),Deaths-head Revisited and The Howling Man, these all scare and make me think in equal measure, and they are all personal favourites.

The powerful performances and different weekly settings ensured the series was popular, but its real claim to fame was the twist ending to each episode. These endings are the series trademark, we are left often reassessing the previous 25 minutes we have watched once the twists are revealed. I love that no matter how many times I watch an episode the twist still retains the shock factor, even when I know full well what’s coming next.

It is a credit to Serling and his superb writing staff that the series is still as powerful today as it was when it first aired. I also like how you never know where you’ll end up next; one episode could be set on an alien world, another set in the old west, and another in the present(50’s and 60’s). Serling’s series also tackled the big issues of his day, particularly racism, fear of nuclear war and fear of people/places unknown to another set of people; the morality tales still stand up well today.

I can also think of no other series where the creator became such an integral part of their own series(not even Alfred Hitchcock on his anthology series.) Serling provides voice over narration for all episodes and filmed intros and outros to the episodes. The face of Serling is as much a part of the series as the music and twists. In the Blu-ray boxset, Serling’s intros/outros are included in all the episodes.

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I consider the first three seasons to be the best. I’m in the minority of fans who actually like season 4(locks self in sealed vault to escape onslaught of season 4 hate.) While I will agree with the main critics that the hour long format here was a mistake; I strongly disagree that the episodes found here are the weakest.

Some of my favourites from this season are The Thirty-Fathom Grave, On Thursday We Leave For Home, Miniature(one of the most moving of all Twilight Zone episodes, featuring a young Robert Duvall),The New Exhibit, Jess-Belle and Printer’s Devil.

I actually think season 5 is the worst, many of the episodes are terrible(what went wrong with the writing here?)There are a few gems to be found though: In Praise of Pip, Nightmare at 20,000 feet(perhaps the best known of all the episodes),An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, Living Doll, Night Call and Stopover in a Quiet Town.

Throughout the series there are fan favourites including: Time Enough At Last, The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street(although I think this would have worked better as a paranoia story, without the alien involvement that we later discover), Nightmare at 20,000 feet, Walking Distance, A Stop At Willoughby and The Odyssey of Flight 33.

There are somewhat lesser appreciated gems too, including: The Last Flight, Nick of Time, People Are Alike All Over, One For The Angels, Printer’s Devil, The Hunt, The Passersby, I Shot An Arrow Into The Air(surely the origins of Serling’s film The Planet of the Apes?),Judgement Night, The Silence, Passage For Trumpet and Mirror Image.

I love how many big film stars feature in this series. I envy classic era audiences who got to tune in weekly not knowing who would appear next. A handful of stars made more than one appearance: Jack Klugman(superb in several deeply moving episodes), Burgess Meredith, William Shatner, Martin Balsam etc. I think the quality of the work is evident given the amount of film stars who agreed to guest star in these episodes.

The series also features one of the most instantly recognisable themes in TV history. Chances are if you’ve never seen an episode, you’ll have heard that intro tune at some point in your life.

I suppose there is also the big question as to just what exactly The Twilight Zone is or means? I take it that it is a phrase that perfectly sums up a the weird and unexplainable events in life. I have often found myself saying “I can’t believe this, it’s like I’m in The Twilight Zone”, when faced with bizarre or horrible situations.

My ten favourite episodes are the following: The Passersby, Walking Distance, The Last Flight, The Grave, Printer’s Devil, The Odyssey of Flight 33, The Changing of the Guard, In Praise of Pip, The Howling Man and One For The Angels.

Similar series which I like include: One Step Beyond and Thriller.

Please share your thoughts on the series. What are your favourite episodes? Never seen an episode? What are you waiting for? The Zone awaits you, just make sure you get a return ticket though, because you wouldn’t want to get stuck there, now would you?

 

 

Detective, Page To Screen

The Saint On Screen: George Sanders as Simon Templar

In 1928, author Leslie Charteris introduced the world to a man named Simon Templar. Simon was a suave, charming, gentleman thief. He was something of a Robin Hood type figure, and he ended up becoming very popular with readers. 

There have been several screen adaptations of The Saint made over the years, for both film and TV. Arguably the most famous screen adaptation was the British TV series starring Roger Moore. I totally love the series(thanks dad for introducing me to Simon Templar and to a pre-Bond Moore) but I much prefer the 1930’s and 1940’s film series starring George Sanders. Sanders took over the role of Templar from Louis Hayward.

The suave George Sanders was basically the go to actor in Hollywood if you wanted a cad or villain in your film. As Templar, Sanders got to show that he was actually just as adept at playing heroes too. When I read any of the books now, it is Sanders face that I see when picturing Simon. I wish Sanders had gotten the opportunity to play the good guy more often on screen.

Sanders perfectly captures Templar’s wit, intellect, charm and (when necessary)extreme toughness. Through his portrayal I always get the sense that his Templar is someone you would love to have as a friend, he would make you feel safe, but you certainly wouldn’t want him as your enemy. I love how words are Templar’s weapons. Sanders has a ball during scenes where he fires off quips and insults. 

I also really love the look Sanders shows on his face when he’s playing scenes where Templar sees through another characters lies. I don’t think you’re ever in doubt that his Templar can take care of himself in a fight; he’s got no hesitation in dishing out a bit of violence to villains who deserve a taste of their own medicine.

Sanders played Templar between 1939 and 1941. That all ended when RKO studios offered him the role of Gay Laurence, in the 1941 film, The Gay Falcon. The Falcon series so closely resembled The Saint series, that Leslie Charteris actually ended up suing RKO Studios for plagiarism.

I consider it a great shame that Sanders stopped making the Saint films. I think he was perfectly suited to the role and I consider him to be the best Templar ever seen on screen. Given how much The Falcon resembled The Saint, it seems odd to me that he would have turned down any future appearances as Templar to take the role of Laurence, but I guess he wanted more high profile flicks than these B pictures. 

Sanders tired of playing Laurence after only three films, his own brother Tom Conway went on to become that series lead. The Saint film series continued with two more films starring Hugh Sinclair.

I love Sanders performance the most in The Saint Takes Over, The Saint Strikes Back, and The Saint in Palm Springs. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching these films. In addition to Sanders terrific performance, I also want to give a shout out to the terrific supporting cast.

Jonathan Hale plays Inspector Fernack, friend and frequent professional thorn in Templar’s side. Fernack essentially replaces Inspector Teale, once Templar moves across the pond to the US. He is excellent and he and Sanders work well together. I really love Hale in the scene where he has an allergic reaction to some seafood.

Paul Guilfoyle adds a great deal of comedy as another of Templar’s chums, Clarence ‘Pearly’ Gates. He steals all the scenes he is in. 

Wendy Barrie pops up in most of Sanders Saint and Falcon films. She isn’t an actress who I’ve ever really been a fan of, but she is actually very good in these films. I like her in scenes with Sanders, and I think that they play off one another very well. 

The role of Simon Templar could well have been written for George Sanders, he fits the role like a glove. I love his performance and I like the elegant, suave and tough way he plays Simon. 

Please share your thoughts on Sanders portrayal of Simon Templar. Which of these films are your favourites? I’ll be happy to receive comments about the books too.

 

 

 

British Cinema, Second World War

Millions Like Us (1943)

 

This is one of my all time favourite films. It is a film that is sadly not very well known today at all. It is a real character piece, and it also served as a good morale booster during WW2. 

This film shows us the experiences of British women working during the Second World War. Set in an aircraft factory overseen by Eric Portman’s no nonsense foreman; we share the joys and heartbreak of a small group of women who sign up to do their bit while the men are away.

There’s the romantic Celia(Patricia Roc), pragmatic Gwen(Megs Jenkins) and the haughty and elegant Jennifer(Ann Crawford). Despite the differences in their background, these girls become firm friends as they adjust to their new duties.

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Celia finds love with a young RAF officer(a baby faced Gordon Jackson), and Jennifer finds herself falling in love with foreman Charlie(Eric Portman). Some of the funniest and most moving scenes in the film are those featuring these two couples.

This really gives you a sense of what life on the homefront was like, aerial bombardments and people from all walks of life being forced to work and live together.  I greatly admire the indomitable spirit of the characters in this; it’s easy to see why this was a real morale booster upon release.

No doubt this film helped women of the time realise the valuable work they could do if they left the kitchen for a change. The war years were tough but for women they brought freedom and independence, as many worked (apart from domestic tasks)for the first time in their lives, life would never be the same when the men returned.

Great performances from the entire cast. Particular praise must go to Eric Portman(one of my favourite actors, someone who should be much better known today)and Ann Crawford(Ann tragically passed away in 1956, aged just 35.)

A little gem that deserves to be better known. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.

 

 

 

 

 

British Cinema, Horror

The Innocents (1961)

For me this is the greatest British horror film. Whenever I think of haunted houses, or of ghosts wandering about amongst the living, this is the film which first springs to my mind. 

This film has such a spooky and unnerving atmosphere about it. The cinematography and lighting add a great deal perfectly creating an unsettling and eerie look to every scene. The period set design is the icing on this horror cake because it really looks like a real home of the period.

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Miss Giddens goes in search of ghosts. Screenshot by me.

I happen to think that spooky old houses are really the best locations to set horror stories in. Think about it for a second. You have creaking floorboards, very old houses, flickering candles and plenty of dark corners; add the possibilities of spirits messing with you and you have got yourself one very creepy situation indeed. 

The Innocents is based upon the Henry James novel, The Turn of the Screw. It is a very creepy, and claustrophobic film. I think that it makes for perfect viewing on a dark night, or on a dark and stormy afternoon.

The film is directed by Jack Clayton, it has photography by Freddie Francis, a screenplay by William Archibald and Truman Capote, and has some truly eerie and atmospheric music by Georges Auric.

From the very beginning this film intrigues the viewer and is highly unsettling. The opening film logos and credits are accompanied by an eerie song that sounds like its straight out of the Victorian era. Birds can be heard chirping on the soundtrack and we also hear the whimpers of a woman.

We then see a distraught woman (who we later learn to be Miss Giddens), her hands clasped together in prayer. We see she is deeply distressed but we have no idea why or what is going on. I think this is such a good way to open the film as it sets up the tone and atmosphere of the film right away,  and it also really makes you wonder about what you are seeing.

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A terrified Miss Giddens. Screenshot by me.

 

The young and much repressed Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr)becomes the new governess to adorable siblings Flora and Miles (Pamela Franklin and Martin Stephens). As time goes on she begins to suspect that the two children are being possessed by the souls of two dead former servants Quint and Miss Jessel(Peter Wyngarde and Clytie Jessop.)

Miss Giddens notices that the siblings behave very oddly and seem to be aware of things that nobody else is aware of. Miles acts very much like an adult in the way he speaks and behaves. There is just something not right about him at all and he acts in a very creepy manner.

For one so young, Martin Stephens very adeptly conveys a wisdom and worldliness way beyond his years, and he does so in a very unsettling way indeed. In my opinion Martin delivers the most unsettling child performances in film history (the little boy from the original Omen film comes in a close second). Martin is especially excellent in the scenes where Miles talks to Miss Giddens in the way a man who was her lover would do, these scenes are very strange and he makes you believe he is possessed by an older man. Weird stuff.

                                  Creepy siblings Miles and Flora. Screenshot by me.

Miles and Flora seem to be almost telepathically linked. The siblings seem to communicate with one another through a series of glances and expressions which convey to us that there are secrets between them known only to them. Their weird behaviour only adds even more creepiness to the proceedings.

Miss Giddens then begins to see ghosts around the house. Or does she?

It is precisely this ambiguity regarding the ghosts that makes this film so effective I believe. You can view the occurrences in the film in two ways – either Miss Giddens really does see the ghosts, and the children really are possessed or else Miss Giddens is suffering a mental breakdown and is imaging the whole thing. Either scenario is terrifying and whichever you believe(I actually believe that it is a combination of both)is scary and makes the ending shocking and sad.

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The ghost in the lake. Screenshot by me.

Personally I think that the children were corrupted by the things they saw Quint and Miss Jessel do together, so what they witnessed has affected their behaviour. Quint and Miss Jessel were also the only companions the children had ever known, so they now try and imitate these adults even after their death. In a way their imitation of the deceased means that they are bringing these people back to life, isn’t this another form of possession?

Miss Giddens hears about the dead servants and begins to fear them and their supernatural influence. She then begins to see them. I think she really does see these horrors, but whether they are actually real ghosts or just her fears manifesting I wouldn’t like to say, to her though they are certainly real apparitions.

This is the type of horror film I like best. It is one where you’re not sure if you just glimpsed something in the corner of your eye, or if something just brushed past a character causing a candle to flicker. I much prefer psychological horror to gore and this film certainly makes you think and it is one that really creeps me out every time I watch it.

I think that Deborah gives one of the very best performances of her entire career here. She captures this woman’s growing fear and paranoia. She starts off portraying her as an eager, shy and happy woman. By the end of the film we see her as a broken, terrified and extremely unstable woman.

I think it is a real shame that Deborah never again got another role like this. She does such a terrific job of conveying Miss Giddens growing fear and obsessions. As the film goes on she looks more and more paranoid, worn out, ill and nervous.

The children are excellent and deliver performances far beyond what most child actors could deliver. The fact that they manage to be creepy, unsettling and adorable all at the same time says a great deal about their acting abilities.

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Megs Jenkins as the housekeeper who doesn’t understand what is going on. Screenshot by me.

Megs Jenkins is very good as the kindly housekeeper who adores the children. Megs conveys her characters great difficulty in believing any of what Miss Giddens says, but also being powerless to undermine her and her authority within the house. 

Beautiful costumes, a stunning garden location (Sheffield Park Gardens)and a gothic atmosphere all combine together to make The Innocents a must see horror film.

My favourite scenes the following. The ghost of the lady appearing in the middle of the lake. Miss Giddens first walk around the beautiful gardens. The conversation between Miss Giddens and Miles, where she becomes convinced that he is possessed. The scene where Miss Giddens walks around the corridors with a candle hearing laughter. Quint’s appearance in the windows.

Are you a fan of this film? Please leave your thoughts below.

 

 

Silent Film

Shooting Stars (1928)

 

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Mae prepares to do a scene of peril. Screenshot by me.

For my first ever blog post(so excited), I would like to discuss this British Silent film from 1928. I saw this for the first time last year, and I have to say that I was only sorry that I had never seen it sooner! The film is funny, touching, dramatic, and it is also quite suspenseful.

 

This is one of the best films about making films that I’ve ever seen. There is a sense of realism about it and it has an almost documentary feel. You really feel like you are backstage with all of these people. I also find it fascinating watching how a Silent era film studio operated and seeing what went on behind and off the camera.

I also found the film to have a very modern feel. The performances were very natural, they certainly didn’t come across as being over the top and theatrical as can sometimes be the case with Silent film performances. I think this film would be good to use to introduce someone to Silent films. 

I think that it must have been both interesting and even difficult viewing for Silent era audiences to watch this film. This film destroys the illusion of film. In this we are shown how the magic of film is achieved, and we see that co-stars may hate one another and yet seem the best of friends on screen.

This film also reveals to us that film is all about illusion. Despite us knowing it’s all illusion, we still believe and enjoy what they see up there on the big screen anyway. We get so caught up in the story and images up on the big screen and forget about our own lives for a few hours.

I would have loved to have been in the audience when this premiered. I really wonder how people reacted to this one. Did it make them more interested in how films were made? Did things shown in this film spoil some peoples enjoyment of watching films from this point on?

The opening scene of the film is the perfect example of how the film makes us realise that all is not as we are led to believe. The film begins with a romantic scene focusing on a woman in a blossom tree kissing a cowboy. What begins as a beautiful romantic scene quickly descends into chaos when a bird in the scene bites the woman. Below are a few screenshots by me to show this sequence.

The woman screams and the camera pulls back revealing to us that she is actually an actress, that the tree is part of a set, and that the scene we’ve just witnessed was for a film. We then pull back and are shown the soundstages of the studio, we see other actors and crewmembers walking around and we see other films being shot on adjacent stages.

The film starts off being very funny, and then it turns very dark and suspenseful. The ending is both realistic and depressing. The film shows us that fame is fleeting and that once great stars can easily become yesterdays news.

Mae Feather(Annette Benson)and Julian Gordon(Brian Aherne)are married, and they are two of the most famous British film stars. Mae is a beautiful and self centred woman. Julian loves her very much though despite her flaws. Mae begins an affair with the adored comedy actor, Andy Wilkes(Donald Calthrop), a man whose comic film act is like a mix of Chaplin and Keaton.  When Julian discovers their affair, Mae becomes so enraged that she decides to kill Julian, her plan ends up having unexpected and disastrous results. 

Benson is superb as the actress who destroys her only chance of happiness for a moment of passion. She is a very expressive actress and really lets us see how her character is feeling and thinking. 

                  A before and after shot of Wilkes in and out of his makeup.

               Screenshot by me.

Calthrop is marvellous playing two very different characters, the comic character Wilkes is famous for, and as the elegant man ladies man who Wilkes is in reality when he is off the screen.

Brian Aherne has the hardest role I think, he has to play Julian as being slightly dull, but also has to ensure he has our sympathy throughout the film I think he more than succeeds. An actress called Chili Bouchier (who I’m unfamiliar with) also makes quite an impression as a glamorous co-star of Wilkes’s.

I would also love to somehow be able to see all three of the films featured within this film. Wilkes’s comedy film in particular looks like it would be great fun. I love the intertitle cards used in the film where Julian’s character rescues Mae’s.

Altman’s bouncy music fits so well with the film, and I found it to also be very catchy. The film title is also later cleverly revealed to have two meanings.

 

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Julian gets as caught up in the film he made as the audience behind him do. Screenshot by me.

My favourite scenes are the following. May and Julian walking onto Wilkes comedy film set and watching him perform. The beach sequence. The opening in the blossom tree. The ending. Julian watching the film at the cinema, and noticing the  excited reaction of the boys behind him as they watch the film.

 

This has immense rewatch value, and it is a must see for Silent fans. This film has something in it for everyone to enjoy, and it does such a good job of showing us how the magic on the big screen is actually achieved.

If I were to pick one film to show to someone as an example of the power and magic of cinema, I think this would be it. The film makes us feel for the characters and get caught up in their lives and actions. The film also has something in it for every viewer to enjoy. It also reminds us what a strange and wonderful thing film can be.