Friday, 14 August 2009

Blithe Spirit

1945 - Dir.: David Lean
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on Spetember 24th, 2004

Another escapist treat - this time the horrors were those of war - not a mention of the conflict in a film that had them flocking to the cinemas in the closing months of WW2. In the same year as they produced the heart rending "Brief Encounter" Noel Coward and David Lean collaborated on this much lighter confection based on Coward's smash hit stage play. Coward's script and Lean's direction must have some influence on proceedings but all their efforts (and those of the rest of the cast) are swept aside by the charging juggernaut that is Margaret Rutherford's Madame Arcate. Dame Margaret, who made her first screen appearance in 1936 at the age of 41, played dotty old dears throughout her long film career but this one was something special. Coward wrote the role specifically for her to play on the stage and then further adapted it to suit her screen persona. In real life Dame Margaret was the daughter of William Benn but her father murdered her grandfather just before she was born, and she was christened with her mother's last name of Christie.

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