Wednesday, 20 August 2014

For Better, For Worse.

Tony Howard (Dirk Bogarde) takes Anne Purves (the baby faced Susan Stephan who was Mrs Nicolas Roeg between 1957 and 1977) to the local ABC Ritz. It’s there, although they have only been going out for 4 weeks, that Tony asks Anne to be his wife and she accepts. There next step is to seek permission from Anne’s father, always a scary affair this grilling by your prospective father in law, in my case he was a very big Dutchman who scared the shite out of me! Usual question’s asked, have you got a job, how much money do you earn, where do you intend to live and of course my daughter is to young to marry – Anne is 19, while the 33 year old Bogarde’s character is 23. Tony has no job and certainly has no were to live. So Mr Purves, (Cecil Parker) who obviously has a few bob, sets down the conditions under which this young whippersnapper can marry his beloved daughter - get a job and find somewhere to live - although he does offer them accommodation in the rather large well furnished house that he and his smartly dressed wife (Eileen Herlie) roll around in.  But Tony’s a proud man and wants to do right by his intended. A job in an office as a third grade government clerk is conjured up at five pound ten shillings a week and then there’s the flat! A large single roomed apartment in a block of flats with the kitchen in one cupboard and a bathroom, without a bath, in another all for thirty shillings a week. And one must remember that a ‘wedding night’ actually meant a wedding night back in the distant past, which certainly gave a young man something to look forward too! They share this location with what can only be described as eccentrics, who incidentally are played by some very well known British character actors including Dennis Price, Athene Seyler and Thora Hird. It’s in this flat where most of our story takes place and provides most of the comedic moments.

The two young lovers. 

Cecil Parker and Athene Seyler.

Based on the British film censor Arthur Watkyns play that had run for over 500 performances in London’s West End[1] and directed by J. Lee Thomson (The Yellow Balloon 1953 Woman in a Dressing Gown 1957, Tiger Bay 1959) this light hearted middle class comedy tries to masquerade as a working class drama but it does not wash and certainly no way does it qualify as a social realist movie! Note the way the couple treat the plumber (James Hayter) who come’s to unblock the kitchen sink and remember the main character owns a vintage car that has a name! But it’s far from being an objectionable film and in fact because of the strength of the script and its decent cast is quite entertaining. There’s something rather cosy and charming about this type of British comedy where nothing really awful happens and we get a ‘happily-ever-after’ ending: which makes a refreshing change especially for this hard nosed blogger.

[1] Bogarde had created the role of Tony Howard at the Q Theatre Kew Bridge London in the plays try out in 1948!

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