Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Our Mothers House.

The bedridden Violet Hook.

Charlie Hook with his brood.
The late well-respected film critic Roger Ebert called it a ghost story with out any ghosts but I would rather describe it as a Victorian gothic drama. It’s set in 1967 London and acts as an antidote for the swinging London movies of that period. We are only reminded of this era when a certain opportunist appears on the scene with a copy of Playboy and his flashy open topped E-Type Jaguar.  Jack Clayton's Our Mothers House (1967) tells a rather grim tale of seven siblings who following their religiously devout mothers death refuse to tell any one, and bury her in the garden of their very large Victorian house. They also move her bedroom furniture to the garden shed and set it up as what they call the tabernacle where they continue there ‘mother time’ something they all did everyday before she died. Although tensions arise between the children and they sack their housekeeper Mrs Quayle (Yootha Joyce) they look after themselves pretty well, still attending school and able to collect there mothers weekly allowance from the post office due to young Jiminee (Mark Lester) being able to forge her signature. But matters take an unexpected turn when their purported father Charlie Hook (Dirk Bogarde) turns up claiming to care for his children but we suspect its more likely to get his hands on the inheritance.

Diana Hook.

A rather unfashionable story for a film released during the ‘summer of love’ but none the less a well-executed and compelling drama showing a darkly engaging slice of life in South London[1] whose religious and sexual undercurrent present us with a spooky atmospheric movie. Bogarde may have been the star, he was nominated for an Academy award for his role, but Clayton coaxed flawless performances from all the children whom you can't take your eyes of off especially the Japanese born British actress Pamela Franklin as Diana, the surrogate mother and medium that communicates with their dead mother.  The screenplay was adapted by Jeremy Brooks from a novel of the same name by Julian Gloag and shows a great deal of respect for the children at the same time as exploring their dangerously irrational world. The film was nominated for a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1967. Well worth sourcing this film, you won’t be disappointed.

[1] The location shooting took place in Croydon.

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