2017-05-06

sovay: (Claude Rains)
I did not have the greatest of days, but Autolycus spent a lot of time on my lap and when [personal profile] spatch got home in the evening we watched a movie called Green Grow the Rushes (1951). It opens with a placid shot of reeds and rippling water and the legend "Any resemblance to living persons or actual events would be more than a coincidence it would be a miracle"; what follows is a gently anarchic English comedy in the Passport to Pimlico tradition, concerning the community of Anderida Marsh and its seven-hundred-year-old charter from Henry III and its total disinclination to let itself be audited by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, especially since its revenue derives almost entirely from smuggling. The stars are somewhat unexpectedly Honor Blackman, Richard Burton, and Roger Livesey, who I did not realize had ever aged into Robert Newton (a sweater, a bowler hat, a five o'clock shadow and a slightly pie-eyed angle to the universe; it looks good on him), plus an assortment of character actors representing the Ministry and various eminences of the village, eventually including Henry III. There's a plucky girl reporter, there's a proto-Ren Faire, there's obfuscating bureaucracy raised to the power of eucatastrophe. For about half the film it feels like it's going pleasantly nowhere and then it turns abruptly, really funny, with a punch line the story may have been written to lead up to (worth it) and a sweet-natured payoff for all the subplots at once. When a cargo of Napoleon brandy appeared in the plot, I was reminded enough of Stan Rogers' "The Wreck of the Athens Queen" to summarize it for Rob, whereupon we got a storm and a shipwreck and I doubt Rogers ever saw the film, but it was still great timing. The director was Derek Twist, who edited The 39 Steps (1935) for Hitchcock and The Edge of the World (1937) for Michael Powell. Bryan Forbes turns up in the supporting cast. The whole thing was, I feel it should almost go without saying, filmed around Romney Marsh. I had never heard of it before tonight and it was almost certainly better for my mood than Fritz Lang's The Blue Gardenia (1953) would have been, although I am still annoyed that expired from FilmStruck before I could see it. I should go to bed and try to have a better day.
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