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.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Once again, I Was Happy Here

Monday:  We have now found out that it was someone in Indonesia who was able to copy a huge chunk of my blog (complete with my own dates and labels) into this other new blog of theirs - for whatever reason. It seems it was done back in Feburary, they have not copied anything since, so maybe that was it. If they return here now they can see that we are on to them, as per post below.

I have waxed lyrical a few time here already on I WAS HAPPY HERE that 1965/1966 film by Desmond Davis from an Edna O'Brien story, set in London and County Clare, Ireland. I am pleased there is now an official (region 1) dvd - it hardly looks like Sarah Miles on the cover though.... The  only 3 reviews on it at IMDB are all from Australia and the copy I was able to get was recorded from Australian televsion, so it must be a popular title down under!

It has been long unseen here, I remember travelling across London to see it down in Tooting in 1966 (when I was 20) in a double bill with REACH FOR GLORY (war, gay interest label here), at the old Classic Cinema chain, but it had never popped up anywhere since apart from one screening at the BFI National Film Theatre last year, which I couldn't get to due to my knee operation. Here is the BFI blurb from that:

Edna O'Brien's affecting story tells of an Irish girl who flees her bullying husband and a grubby London to return to the tiny fishing port where she grew up - and where her childhood sweetheart still lives. The film, with a resounding John Addison score, is full of new-wave flourishes - flashbacks, frozen shots - and takes maximum advantage of the pictorial contrasts between London and Lahinch, but it's the romantic wistfulness that lingers in the mind.

It is actually a fascinating picture of London in that mid-'60s just as it started to swing.
Cass's bedsit overlooks the new Post Office tower (also used to good effect in Davis's SMASHING TIME). Davis also directed that other O'Brien tale GIRL WITH GREEN EYES where it's heroine ends up working at the W.H. Smith shop I used to know at Notting Hill Gate, just opposite the Classic cinema there. Ireland label has more on these ... but good to see I AM HAPPY HERE out and about again - Sarah of course went on to that unhappy stint on Antonioni's BLOW-UP and then back to Ireland for David Lean's protracted shoot on RYAN'S DAUGHTER.

There is a wistfulness about I WAS HAPPY HERE and its non-linear storyline with lots of flashbacks and good locations in Lahinch and Liscannor. I should be visiting there next year, wonder if it has changed much ... Cyril Cusack and Marie Kean are sterling support and newcomer Sean Caffrey is that elusive fisherman while Julian Glover captures that Wimbledon rugger playing doctor. Sarah has a great moment too with that "We were all nice girls" speech, which is also pure O'Brien.

Movies I have nothing to say about: the latest MISSION IMPOSSIBLE GHOST PROTOCOL - I like a good popcorn movie when I am in the mood (I relished every moment of CASINO ROYALE, THE DARK KNIGHT, AIR FORCE ONE, INDIANA JONES et al) but this latest one just washed over me, I am just not a fan of CGI movies - where is the depth, the "reality" ? - I saw most of this actually on fast forward and don't feel I missed a thing, a lot of it was like a Pixar cartoon -  but then I am not the target audience for this kind of movie; at the opposite end of the scale Ralph Fiennes' CORIOLANUS didn't really engage me either, one certainly gets the commitment but this version of Shakespeare updated to a Balkans type conflict becomes wearying, despite Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox at full throttle. Fiennes also directs but somehow doesn't engage us; methinks I will stick with HAMLET and MACBETH...

Coming up: BEYOND THE SEA (Kevin as Bobby Darin), that EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (and I won't be praising it ...),  THE HOURS, Ingrid as GOLDA; back to High Art with some Russian and Ozu tales, AU HASARD BALTHAZAR, De Sica's BICYCLE THEIVES and UMBERTO D and GARDEN OF THE FINZI CONTINI; more Melvilles (ARMY OF SHADOWS, LE CIRCLE ROUGE)  and Chabrols,  and to High (or Low) Trash with Helmut Berger's DORIAN GRAY, JUST A GIGOLO, and those Warners sudsers like PARRISH and SUSAN SLADE and Vadim's 1959 LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES .... Julia Roberts, and a few Joan Crawford sagas - that should be enough for the present !


  1. Mystery solved, Terrific Michael! Full steam ahead.

    You are spot on drawing us to the wistfulness, so beautifully drawn in “I Was Happy here”. One of my absolute favourites,Michael. It haunts hearts forever longing for the natural place to warm to within.

    Holding my breath for The Finzi Contini's review. This film is a masterful portrait from De Sica for me & for many. What will you reveal further from your insights? Thank you again.

  2. Greetings Emma

    Yes there is a wistfulness and yearning I find very appealing in I WAS HAPPY HERE (or LOVE LOST AND TIME REMEMBERED as its called in America I undertand). Its a very simple story with a few 60s new wave touches and it really engages one, particularly that Irish background which I know so well, for me, and trying to see where those London locations are.

    PS - don't hold your breath too long, it will be a week or two before I get on to the De Sica films, there's quite a few to see first, but I will do my best.