Page 6, 9th April 1976

9th April 1976
Page 6
Page 6, 9th April 1976 — Good holiday fare in two animal films

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Locations: Dallas


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Good holiday fare in two animal films


ANIMAL_ storieZ are the film industry's recipe for this year's Faster holidays, And in a secular society there seems little reason why they shouldn't he the answer to ordinary homes in search of decent family entertainment.

II Shouldn't Happen to a Vet ("A", Warner Two) is less an animal story than a light and loving tribute to people concerned with animals. James Herriot. the Yorkshire Vet, is already a best-selling figure through his memoirs and the first film taken from them.

This is a second batch of Herriot stories. with John Alderton as the young James Herriot in the early stages of his career. His senior partner, Siegfried

Fallon (Colin Blakley is immensely effective) assumes a cynical exterior to mask the loving-kindness for people and animals of which a country vet like a country doctor. needs an endless supply.

The third figure in the veterinary household is Helen (Lisa Farrow), Herriot's bride. Lisa Farrow sketches her in as a persuasive illustration of the dedication for which the vet's wife. too. is called upon.

What I like about this film is its fair balance between this devoted dedication of the vet's whole life and the light comedy of many of his visits.

At the (Inc extreme there is the harmless deception of replacing an old woman's dead budgerigar with a talking one. or Herriot's two lapses on Mr Criimp's homemade wines just before a salving. At the other. the film handles beautifully the near-tragedy over another elderly widow's cattle and Herriot's own conflict with ambition over a possible partnership with a town vet.

John Aldcrton makes Herriot a very nice, normal young man,

ambitious but clear-headed enough to know when ambition is to he set aside for better values., a young man who with his bride fits happily into the lovely Yorkshire countryside. refreshingly photographed by Arthur Ihhetson.

Beoil ("Ir. Studio One, Lind from Easter ABC release playing only during school holiday periods) is a straight animal story. It is just that a movie equivalent. ingeniously made, of the animal fiction over which most people have at some time pored No. doubt it is sentimental but not unduly coy. Benji is a Border terrier-type stray whom we meet through the house he has adopted for his breakfast. Every morning his scratch at the door is welcomed by the doctor's two children and by the doctor's

housekeeper, Mary (Patsy Garrett), but has to he concealed from the doctor himself (Peter Breck).

The film's maker, Joe camp is ingenious in his success in getting Benji to walk and run (in slow motion too). and clamber as the script requires, collecting bones in an ancient valise, bringing to show off a more nearly coy fluffy white girl-friend, crossing busy roads in an orderly fashion. Villany or menace breaks in when a gang of young undesirables turn up in the deserted old house where Benji sleeps.

Benji is shocked to see the Doctor's children brought in, bound, by the delinquent kidnappers. it is natural that Benji should come to their rescue.

I can't pretend I quite grasped how he was meant to recognise the importance of the ransom note he carries home at such effort. But it is the measure of Mr Camp's success in fabricating the story and of Benji's own strictly unpretentious dog charm that this possibly missing link does not spoil the satisfactory story.

Made most exceptionally by a small American company in Dallas, the film has had a surprise success in the United States which could well be repeated here.

Australian films only infrequently reach us, and it seems probable that Between Wars ("A", Gate) is a 'minority film anyway. It has the overextended look of pretension beyond its capacity. It follows the progress of a young Australian doctor (Corin Redgrave).

In 1917, at the front. he is eventually sent home for trying to treat cases of shell-shock and for becoming friendly with a German prisoner-of-war who is a Freudian doctor. neither shellshock nor the theories of Freud hejng tolerated by the authorities.

At home in Australia, although

he gradually becomes a prominent psychiatrist, he still comes up against the same pressures 24 years later, .1 he film has an oddly amateurish. incoherent development, but what seem isolated episodes have a certain life and interest. Corin Redgrave makes a plausible misfit of the doctor.

In the same programmes is a short film sponsored by the Arts Coolish England How and Beauty ("U", Gate) is an amusing survey of English

architecture, furnishing and decoration since the thirties.

The implicit criticism of our national taste is amusing with its plethora of hideous china objects, but the commentary hardly makes the argument clear perhaps because it consists of quotations from reports.

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