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, 10 March 2014

Bette's Anniversary ...

Before we move on to more challenging movies, here is a treat from 1968 - Bette Davis in THE ANNIVERSARY, one of her later films made in England. Its a play I have a history with .... back in that great year 1966 when I was 20 and had started theatre-going in London (having already relished Barbra Streisand in FUNNY GIRL from the front row of the stalls - I had never seen anyone with a little microphone taped to them before - and Robert Stephens stunning as the Inca king in that great National Theatre production of THE ROYAL HUNT OF THE SUN, from up the in the cheap seats at The Old Vic) I saw the first production of the play of THE ANNIVERSARY, a highly praised black comedy by Bill Macllraith, with Mona Washbourne as the mother who used any means to control her family, which included Jack Hedley and wife Sheila Hancock, young son Michael Crawford and his girlfriend June Ritchie, and her older single son James Cossins with his fetish for ladies underwear which he steals from clothes lines, and which gets him into trouble. Mother gathers her tribe every year to celebrate her wedding anniversary, though father died some time ago .... this year things may be different. 
This was great on the stage, dear Mona had great fun with the role of the monstrous mother, and I still have the programme signed by all the cast, as I was with somebody who was able to take me backstage and meet them all ...
However, Hammer films signed Bette Davis for the film and kept most of the stage cast, apart from Michael Crawford - replaced by Christian Roberts (who was also in TO SIR WITH LOVE), and Elaine Taylor as the girlfriend who stands up to Mother's bullying tactics. Bette is the queen bee here, with her eye patch in different colours to match her outfits as she steam-rolls over her family and their ambitions. Sheila Hancock is bliss as the daughter-in-law who has her own scheme to get the better of mother .... but will her husband (Hedley) go along with it?

Bette gives it her all - she also wanted to do the film of THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE that year, for Aldrich, another hit play which became a lurid notorious film .... like those films I mentioned earlier of the Joe Orton plays LOOT and ENTERTAINING MR SLOANE, all tarted up to cope with the changing face of cinema in that 1970 era ...

THE ANNIVERSARY is still a lot of trashy fun now (my late friend Jeff loved it and had its poster on his wall), its broad comedy with a nasty touch, which Bette goes to town on. Oddly enough the play was revived a few years ago with Sheila Hancock, now one of our senior actresses, playing the mother - I really should have gone to see it. 
Other "Films & Filming" covers with Bette - they even had a whole Bette issue in 1956, right.

No comments:

Post a Comment