Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Saturday, 26 June 2010
I Was Happy Here, again
A return to the British cinema of 1966 when I WAS HAPPY HERE was released. British movies of the time were dominated by Tony Richardson, John Schlesinger, Joseph Losey, Richard Lester, Michael Winner, and Ken Russell getting ready to take off with his brilliant BBC productions on the likes of Rossetti and Elgar. Two under-rated talents though who also caught the zeitgeist of the swinging decade were the now under-rated Clive Donner (NOTHING BUT THE BEST, WHATS NEW PUSSYCAT?, HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY BUSH and ALFRED THE GREAT) and Desmond Davis with those nice little films capturing the minutae of everyday life and love: THE GIRL WITH GREEN EYES and I WAS HAPPY HERE. Both from Edna O'Brien stories GIRL WITH GREEN EYES is more plot-driven with its story and strong Dublin locations of country girl Rita Tushingham and her doomed affair with mature writer Peter Finch, and then there is her pal Baba (Lynn Redgrave). Its a nice look at Ireland back then and is achingly nostalgic for me at the end as the girls head off to England on the Ferry from Dublin - something I used to do myself - and her new life in mid-60s London - Notting Hill Gate actually (just like me!).
More aching nostalgia in I WAS HAPPY HERE (which I have just re-watched for the second time recently). Its a more aimless, melancholic story as Cass (Sarah Miles - a world away from her other Irish romance in that overblown David Lean film) mopes in her London bedsitter (with its nice view of that new symbol of the 60s, The Post Office Tower) as she realises how alone one can be in the big city. She marries the first man who notices her - an over-bearing dentist (Julian Glover) who takes her off to the suburbs in Wimbledon, but now she is fleeing back to her hometown in Ireland in County Clare (it was filmed at Lahinch and Liscannor) and the safety of the hotel she worked in, where owner Cyril Cusack amuses himself during the winter months playing cards. The dentist follows her but Cass thinks she can recapture her happiness there and the boyfriend she left behind (Sean Caffrey) whom she wanted to follow her to London, but he went off to sea instead. Its all very lyrical again achingly nostalgic for anyone who knows the Ireland and London of the time. It also has not been seen since its release (at least GIRL WITH GREEN EYES is on dvd) but I got a copy from Australia! so its been bliss seeing it again. Its one of Sarah's best roles - she went on to Antonioni's BLOW-UP next and then back to Ireland again for that long shoot in Kerry for Lean's RYAN'S DAUGHTER...
Davis also directed a little film THE UNCLE and turned to slapstick with SMASHING TIME in 1967 - another favourite and one I can watch a lot as Tushingham and Redgrave team up again as friends Brenda and Yvonne down to London from the North to find fame and fortune in the swinging city. Its hilarious fun, as scripted by George Melly, in bright colours, with Michael York (a photographer of course) and great turns by Irene Handl and Anna Quayle with her "Too Much" boutique [where Rita's pals from A TASTE OF HONEY hang out]! and again the Post Office Tower features heavily - groovy man! He also directed the original CLASH OF THE TITANS in '81 and a well-received tv version of GIRL WITH GREEN EYES with its original title THE COUNTRY GIRLS in '84 among lots of other credits. Below: my invite to a 1967 screening of Davis' THE UNCLE.