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.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Dirk update ...

Two new Dirk Bogarde rarities have surfaced:  his 1952 thriller THE GENTLE GUNMAN has been rescued from the archives by our Film4 channel who have screened it several times in recent weeks, and is on dvd, and a 1966 American television production of Coward's BLITHE SPIRIT is on YouTube, along with a raft of other Bogarde clips and interviews.

THE GENTLE GUNMAN, 1952. This turned up on tv and proved totally engrossing. Directed by Basil Dearden (in his prolific era)  in 1952 from a play by Roger MacDougal, and featuring Bogarde and John Mills as two Irish brothers divided by their IRA loyalties. No wonder this never appeared anywhere here during the last 50 years …. I had not realised Bogarde and Mills had been teamed before their 1960 oddity THE SINGER NOT THE SONG. THE GENTLE GUNMAN now seems as relevant for its time as BOYS IN BROWNPOOL OF LONDON, THE BLUE LAMP or HUNTED. (reviews at Bogarde label).

Bogarde is the young hothead being used by the IRA (buffoons Jack McGowran and Liam Redmond) to plant a bomb in a suitcase in a crowded London underground station full of people sleeping for the night (its 1941 in wartime). This is the nightmare scenario for all us commuters, but luckily brother Mills is at hand to grab the suitcase and throw it into the tunnel before it goes off …. Bogarde is tailed back to their lodgings where McGowran and Redmond are caught. Back in Ireland the IRA bigshot Robert Beatty is not pleased, as suffering mother Barbara Mullen (later immortalised as Janet in DR FINLAY’S CASEBOOK) sees her other youngest son also fall into the IRA clutches. Doctor Joseph Tomelty and Englishman Gilbert Harding discuss the pros and cons of the Irish question and the justification of terrorist acts, as the wounded youngest brother is brought in, followed by the gang members including trigger-happy Eddie Byrne. There is another shoot-out in a crowded street, a daring rescue by Mills of the IRA chaps on their way to prison, and finally Mills is about to be executed by his compatriots when …..
exciting stuff then and it all looks great with moody black and white photography and all those men in raincoats and hats with their shooters to hand. A definite curiosity now, as the terrorists are presented as thugs or amiable buffoons unable to change the status quo as their senseless actions cause harm to innocent people without achieving anything but causing more suffering and hate. The Irish “Troubles” is not an easy subject for the movies (SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL is another fascinating melodramatic attempt in 1959, but Carol Reed ‘s ODD MAN OUT is the classic here). 

Coward's BLITHE SPIRIT never goes away for long. We love the David Lean 1945 film with Rex Harrison at his sublime best, and it has just been on in London again with Dame Angela Lansbury as Madame Arcati, at a mere 88. This production on YouTube  
is a 1966 one where Dirk has a stab at it, fascinating to see now, as he was friends with Harrison and of course Kay Kendall (who would have been a perfect Elvira, if she had lived, she died in 1959, as per my posts on her, at label). 
Here it is Rosemary Harris, and the current wife is Rachel Roberts - Rex's wife after Kay. Rachel seems a little too working class for the milieu here, but the day is saved as Madame Arcati is no less than Ruth Gordon !  Its certainly an odd enjoyable version. Dirk also did another American tv item, LITTLE MOON OF ALBAN in 1964, with my favourite Julie Harris, I wonder if that is available ...  Also on YouTube is Dirk as guest-panellist on a 1960 edition of WHATS MY LINE, which I presume he had to do when promoting SONG WITHOUT END in New York, bet he hated doing that ...
There is also that fascinating documentary Dirk narrates and appears in on that missing 1937 Von Sternberg production of I CLAUDIUS, which I had not seen since the BBC ran it back in the late '60s:

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