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.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Perfectly theatrical (Life During Wartime continued)

We have closed the Projector for a day or two and headed off to the theatre: the current London revival of Terence Rattigan's FLARE PATH proved a worthwhile experience, a loving crafted revival of Rattigan's 1942 play, which was later used as the basis for his script for Asquith's THE WAY TO THE STARS (see below) in 1945. A strand of this also turned up in Rattigan's script for THE VIPS - the lead Peter Kyle [James Purefoy] is an actor who has turned 40 and feels his career is starting to slip so he really needs the woman he loves [Sienna Miller] to leave her husband for him - but she eventually realises how much the husband, a wartime pilot, needs her so she decides to stay with him... FLARE PATH is set at that hotel (lovingly realised on stage) by the airfield as airmen and residents wait for those who are flying to return. The best character here is the Countess, a former barmaid, who does not really understand how much her Polish husband loves her until the visiting actor Kyle reads her his letter (which is in French) to be given to her in case he goes missing ....

This is a magnificent revival of a great play by Trevor Nunn which is both profoundly moving and wonderfully funny, thanks mainly to Sheridan Smith as Doris the former barmaid, now the Countess Skriczevinsky, just as good here as she was in LEGALLY BLONDE, last year's stage hit. The visuals too and sounds of the bombers taking off are brilliantly realised.

Here is what I wrote last year on THE WAY TO THE STARS:

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....

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