records of the Coronation ,
ELIZABETH IS QUEEN. Producer: Howard Thomas A QUEEN IS CROWNED. Producer: Castleton Knight ITN last week's films being shown too late to catch Press day, this column is going to be a bit crowded. Treading on the full-length colour records of the Coronation, inside and outside the Abbey. on the Laurence Olivier opera and a happy excursion into the realm of Welsh choirs, is a full programme this week.
After watching the Coronation on television and being enthralled by it --at times it had the quality of a dream—I looked forward eagerly to seeing the whole thing come to coloured life. On Friday morning I saw Elizabeth is Queen (Warnercolor)—parrative written by John Kidney, spoken by I co Genn. In the evening came Castleton Knight's A Queen is Crowned, Sir Laurence Olivier speaking. Christopher Fry's narrative. My advice is Try to see them both. They complement each other. Each has some shots the other has not.
For instance, 1 loward Thomas shows Lis a frontal close-up of the Queen signing the parchment. Castleton Knight takes this from the back. The gold of the carpet glows richer in the Howard Thomas production; Castleton Knight's thrilling shot of the Queen taking the sword and surrendering it is something I will not easily forget.
There were moments when 1 found both commentaries just a bit contrived. That note of almost-piety rang a little hollow. especially when we—the British—were, being discussed. We know we're not as wonderful as all that.
But these are brave and grand records of a great occasion. Even the disastrous weather was turned to pictorial effect as the stirring pageant moved over wet roads that reflected horses and marchers and the glowing gold coach as in a mirror.
THE BEGGAR'S OPERA (Rialto: Certificate U) Director: Peter Brook MUST days I ride past the' old site of Tyburn on the. bus and I sometimes try to imagine what it looked like on an execution day. Now, in a noisy, Hogarthian, pieselling. gin-swilling. raucous crowd scene, swirling with colour. we have Mr. Peter Brook's idea of what it might have looked like.
In spite of a prime piece of miscasting — 1 mean Sir Laurence Olivier as Captain Macheath—this Is quite a tilm, even though its whole conception—the filmic treatment of
what should be a formalised entertainment-'is anachronistic.
Dorothy Tutin and Daphne Anderson (Polly Peachum and Lucy I ockit) are under the serious disadvantage of having to mouth their songs while real singers "dub" off.
Sir Laurence, playing with almost a poker face. comes to magnificent life as he rides to the gallows—the central figure in the Tyburn scene noted and applauded above.
VALLEY OF SONG (Certificate U) Director: Gilbert Gunn
ATERRIBLE moment occurs in a Welsh village when the reigning contralto who always gets the solos in "The Messiah" is by-passed in favour of a newer and better singer. The Montagus and the Capulets sorry, the Lloyds and the Davieses7-range themselves on opposing sides and, of course, their Romeo and Juliet have to fall in love.
Sincerity is the keynote of this charming film, which concerns itself with real people and has got together a cast to match. Mervyn Johns and Clifford Evans arc names we know. But we must also bail two youthful newcomers—Maureen Swanson and John Fraser for the freshness and naturalness of their portrayal of the young lovers.
And no one will grumble that the sound track breaks into song at every opportunity. Welsh singing at its best.
Odeon Marble Arch: Certificate U Director: Roy Boulting THIS is what a story about a Naval engagement should be—terse, economical, clearcut, unsentimental and packed _with movement. It is based on the'C. E. Forrester version, told in his novel "Brown on Resolu tion," of the sinking of the German raider E.ssen in the Pacific.
Brown (played straight and rugged by Jeffery Hunter) is the illegitimate son of a naval officer (Michael Rennie) and a "shy young woman" (Wendy Hiller) who met and parted in the First World War. Brown. 24 years later is a leading signalman in one of the cruisers protecting a convoy. He is one of two survivors picked up by the Essen when his ship is torpedoed.
His father (who is unaware of his existence) is in command of the cruiser squadron. It is his ship that sinks the Essen after Brown has escaped to an island while the German ship is anchored in a land-locked hay forArermpeadirsw. with a rifle. he delays the repairs by picking off the Germans one by one at their work. thus giving the British ships the time they needed to reach and sink the enemy ship.
A harrowing, vivid picture with an emotional but disciplined ending when the father and mother meet at Buckingham Palace—he to receive an honour for the sinking. she to receive the Victoria Cross on behalf of her son who has died or wounds, of thirst and exposure on the rocky cliffside.
THE CAPTAIN'S PARADISE (Plaza: Certificate A) Director: Anthony Kimmins ALEC GUINNESS, probably
awares, has become the symbol of the simple man who has one increasing purpose, It may be the development of a dress material with permanent qualities, the perfection of a fool-proof system of forgeries. or. as in this case, the pursuit of mortal 'happiness.
As a British captain who "commutes" on his own boat between Gibraltar and a North African port, he thinks he has found the answer to the British pull between the bodily comforts of suburban England (within the British microcosm of the Rock) and the uninhibited life as lived in a gay Africo-Latin world. With a wife in each port he stays this happy course for many years until he finds that women are very much the same the world over.
Anthony Kimmins, with the help of Yvonne de Carlo (in Africa). Celia Johnson (in Gibraltar) and Charles Goldner (narrator and officer on the bridge) makes light inconsequential stuff of all this—and the audience emerges with abroad grin.
Mora!: The capture of happiness is still unsolved.
THE GIRLS OF PLEASURE ISLAND
(Carlton: Certificate U)
Directors: F. Hugh Herbert and Alvin Ganzcr
THREE British girls get the Hollywood treatment in a silly story about dame-hungry Gis. and—yes —three British girls whose father (Leo Genn) owns a Pacific island.
As a vehicle for a film debut the film serves the girls well enough. hey are Dorothy Bromiley, Audrey Dalton and Joan Elan.
Two readers have written to remind me that there has been a Father Brown film made in Hollywood before the war. One reader remarks that it was also based on "The Blue Cross," but neither reader seems to think that it was either a worthy or a memorable film.