Friday, 24 April 2015

Dear Mr Prohack.

Dedicated respectfully to that great little huge body of men and women – The British Civil Service[1]

Dirk Bogarde was not very happy with his role in Dear Mr Prohack (1949) and to be honest his future acting ability had not quite come to the fore at this stage in his career. He plays Charles Prohack son of Cecil Parkers Arthur Prohack a high-ranking treasury official who unexpectedly comes into a quarter of a million pounds (it was quite suppressing what you could do with this amount of money 66 years ago!). This rather lightweight comedy rests somewhat on Prohack seniors public prudence and his private recklessness and as a satire on Civil Service red tape.
"He's been spending money Doctor"
This Wessex Film Production was made at Pinewood with location shooting carried out in London, which in this film shows no sign that WW2 had only ended a few years before! Adapted and updated by Donald Bull and Ian Dalrymple to represent 1949 from Arnold Bennetts novel Mr Prohack and the play, which also starred Cecil Parker, by Bennett and Edward Knoblock. This was the last film directed by American Thornton Freeland whose career spanned some 26 British and American films between 1924 and 1949 including the Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers’s movie Flying Down to Rio in 1933.
Bogarde has his head turned by Glynes Johns.
The best thing about this movie is its great cast. As well as Parker, who acting skills were summed up beautifully as “wobbling of jowl, fluting of voice, cluttering of harassed hand, a master of disconcerted flappability” by Robin Cross[2] and the early role for Dirk Bogarde, we had Hermione Baddeley (It Always Rains on Sunday 1947, Brighton Rock 1947) as Mrs Eve Prohack, Glynes Johns as Arthurs private assistant and his sons love interest. Other familiar faces in minor roles include Denholm Elliott in his first feature film, future director Bryan Forbes, Elwyn Brook-Jones, a very quick glimpse of Ian Carmichael as a hat salesman and even a future Doctor Who, Michel Pertwee. More of a farce than a comedy, which included a rather strange dream sequence involving Cecil Parker! Strictly for fans of antediluvian British movies.     

Punch Cartoon.

[1] Opening credits.
[2] Robin Cross - Book of British Film.

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