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.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Dirk Bogarde double bill: those '50s British war movies...

Life during wartime back in the '50s - including a brace of early Bogardes.

THE SEA SHALL NOT HAVE THEM. I saw this 1954 war drama as a kid, and it still involves now as it almost plays like a documentary on the wartime air rescue service, who went out in their boats in all weathers to rescue crews from downed planes. Here a plane ditches in the North Sea as Michael Redgrave (carrying a briefcase of military secrets), Dirk Bogarde, Bonar Colleano and Jack Watling spend the film in a dinghy in the Shepperton tank. The rescue boat 2561 is headed by Nigel Patrick and Anthony Steel (in regulation duffel coats and polo neck sweaters) and the lower orders below deck include all the familiar faces: Sidney Tafler, Victor Maddern, Michael Ripper. The men in the dinghy start to deteriorate in adverse weather, a rescue plane also has to ditch and picks up a German, (Anton Diffring of course), while back on land posh wife (Rachel Kempson, Mrs Redgrave) and working class one (young Joan Sims) get a scene each, and there is also a middle-class girlfriend waiting, so class distinctions are as rigid as in IN WHICH WE SERVE. It is all directed at a brisk pace by Lewis Gilbert. Certainly one of the best war movies of the ‘50s.

APPOINTMENT IN LONDON. A marvellous early Dirk Bogarde film I had not seen before, this 1953 film, sensitively directed by Philip Leacock, is one of the better war films of the ‘50s. It seems to be a realistic depiction of Bomber Command, flying their Lancasters on those nightly bombing raids. Bogarde is the Wing Commander who has done more than his share of night flights but wants to continue, he is grounded though by his superiors who feel that fatigue has set in. Bryan Forbes is the young flyer who disobeys orders by letting his girl (secretly his wife) know he is safe after flights, much to Bogarde’s annoyance. Later Dirk has to confront the wife, Anne Leon. Lots of regulars are among the ranks: Richard Wattis, Sam Kydd, Terence Longdon, William Slyvester. Dinah Sheridan is perfect again as the naval officer and her romance with Bogarde, who gets his opportunity to fly again, nicely depicted. As it THE WAY TO THE STARS there is also that bar and hotel next to the airfield. In all, a pleasant surprise. Leacock directed some interesting little films like this, THE SPANISH GARDENER and REACH FOR GLORY (both reviewed here , Bodarde, war labels) before going over to American television directing series like “The Waltons”, “Dynasty” and “Falcon Crest”.

SEA OF SAND. One of those British war movies they turned out a lot in the ‘50s, this 1958 one is rather a companion piece to ICE COLD IN ALEX. Here our motley crew are behind enemy lines tasked to destroy a German petrol dump as part of the North Africa campaign, in 1942. Guy Green keeps it moving nicely and the desert is like an ocean of sand with that crisp black and white photography. John Gregson and Michael Craig lead our men, with Richard Attenborough as one of the squaddies. The usual conflicts arise and sacrifices are made; surprisingly the young 21 year old who confides that his wife had a son a week earlier manages to survive – I had him down as a goner! It is an under-rated, well-made example of the war genre with some splendid moments, and a nice coda at the end.

Back in the '40s during the war those films like IN WHICH WE SERVE, THE WAY TO THE STARS, THE GENTLE SEX, 2000 WOMEN and THE DAY WILL DAWN are still very affecting and were just the ticket then - then came those expensive '60s re-creations like BATTLE OF BRITAIN, OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR and no end of stuff like OPERATION CROSSBOW or WHERE EAGLES DARE!

No comments:

Post a Comment