Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Card

1952 - Dir: Ronald Neame
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 24th February, 2007

One of Alec Guinness' most satisfying roles early in his long career. As Denry Machin, son of a washerwoman and the "card" of the title, Guinness brings to life one of the much loved stories about the "five towns" (Stoke-on-Trent) by Arnold Bennett. The old-fashioned and very English word "card" had to be translated into "The Promoter" for the American market. Not so much a “belly-laugh” comedy but more a feel-good movie - made years before that particular clich√© had been invented. The Americans didn’t appreciate this and put it down to the (seemingly exclusive) British disease of subtlety.
The script for this film was adapted from Bennett’s novel by best selling author Eric Ambler. Mr Ambler was responsible for the screenplays of such movie milestones as “The Yangtse Incident”, “The Cruel Sea” and “Topkapi”. This is one of his only excursions away from the world of action and adventure.
Director Ronald Neame was probably better known as a cameraman. The memorable imagery in “Blithe Spirit” and “This Happy Breed” was his handiwork but his most popular films were less sophisticated - he was George Formby’s favourites cameraman. “Turned out nice again Ronald”
· A musical version of The Card was staged in 1973 with songs by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent. Perhaps predictably it flopped.
· Petula Clark was 20 when she played Nellie. She’d been a music hall star since the age of 11. Her transformation into a pop singer only started when her fame had abated and she found herself working as a secretary in a French rubber factory.
· The original publicity for the film was headlined “Here's That Man Again in a Gay New Misadventure!” How times change!

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