The perfect Sunday afternoon movie
THE WAY TO THE STARS, 1945. I love English movies of the '40s, and this is a prime example. Its up there with IN WHICH WE SERVE or THIS HAPPY BREED showing the fortitude of life in wartime with stiff upper lips covering depths of emotion. This one is by Terence Rattigan and directed by Asquith, and captures the war era perfectly, set as it is on an airfield and the adjoining hotel run by Toddy - Rosamund John as the quintessential English gentlewoman (rather like Celia Johnson). Toddy marries airman Michael Redgrave and they have a baby - but he is a casualty of war and Toddy bravely carries on, observed by friend John Mills - but he does not wish the same fate on Renee Asherson so their romance flounders until Toddy puts him right. Then there are the americans, including Bonar Colleano and Douglass Montgomery who becomes friendly with Toddy. This movie must surely have influenced Schlesinger's YANKS, whose Richard Gere even resembles Montgomery! Add in Joyce Carey as the snobbish hotel resident who gets her just comeuppence, and a young Jean Simmons (16) who sings that song "let him go let him tarry". It all adds up to stirring deeply emotional stuff, ending as Toddy closes the hotel for the night, looking up at those stars. THIS HAPPY BREED, 2000 WOMEN, THE GENTLE SEX, I LIVE IN GROSVENOR SQUARE and Lean's BRIEF ENCOUNTER and THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS are more of the same.... then there are those Michael Powells like I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING, BLACK NARCISSUS, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, Carol Reeds, David Leans and Basil Dearden's sumptuous SARABAND FOR DEAD LOVERS with that dream pair of Stewart Granger and Joan Greenwood and the malevolent performance of Flora Robson, of which more later.