Details

Made-for-TV BBC production, 1991. Running time 2 hours. Directed by Anthony Page. Starring Dame Judy Dench as Christine Foskett, Ronald Pickup as Siegfried Shrager, Bill Nighy as Hugh Marriner, Charles Grey as Maurice Hussey. Nat plays Sam Mitchum.

 

 

Plot Summary

The whole story takes place in a pub which is owned by Judi Dench's character. She seems to have been enjoying the somewhat bohemian guests of hers for some years. We are in the aftermath of WWII. A lot of troubled minds are gathering in her place night after night to have a drink but even more importantly, a talk about life in general and all the quarrels that it brings. As I said, there are lots of bohemians there, film producers, writers and... well intellectuals of all kinds, plus the guests who simply don't seem to have elsewhere to go. Different issues are to be discussed over a period of some weeks. We see the same faces come and go over the time, affairs begin and end, long-time relationships come to an end and a new beginning. We see refugees from central Europe. There are topics like homosexuality during those days in the UK, the Holocaust that just took place, lost friends and how the guests of that pub deal with it all. All in all this occurs to me like a film-noir version of a post-war "vie en rose" set in London in the late forties. Basically everyone is trying to forget about something, or run from something, even trying to find the real self, finding some kind of orientation or running away from the ghosts of the past and all with the help from a lot of drinks. The genuine expression for this kind of behaviour is "escape", may it be sex or alcohol. Everyone is busy dealing with her / his own problems, instead of reflecting about the things to come or the things that were or the people that surround them.

General Review

While Dame Judi Dench is magnificent as always, this play is dreadfully depressing about the lives of London life after WWII. And yes, it is filmed stage play at it's modest! No efforts have been made to make the transition from stage to screen. But my biggest problem with it is the inability of all characters to deal with their problems. Everyone seems to be constantly complaining about life or trying to numb themselves with alcohol or meaningless sexual affairs. Dame Judi plays the tragic lonely heroine who would plead for the companionship of a homosexual. The play is rather grim and depressing to watch, although superbly well acted and fitted out with a very fine cast. Surprisingly, I did get to watch it because of the help of an Irish friend. But I have to say that I do understand why we won't see much repeats of this one. The observation about the barflys or members of that private club escaping into alcoholism and sex is getting dull over the duration of this made-for-TV adaptation.

Nat Review

Nat is playing a young American soldier (naturally terribly good-looking) who is drifting like all the other characters. He is after a woman, who's past is somewhat mysterious. She is in the company of an Austrian intellectual and we will learn that she has lost her girl-friend in the Holocaust. Sam Mitchum has the unfortunate task to tell and show her about it. Besides this fact (and the coincidence that he is able to win her - for a limited time) he is an aspiring writer, who'll be neglected by the bohemians in that pub and who is himself turning down the opportunity offered to him by a homosexual producer to become a big movie-star. Now talking about Nat's performance: he is great. Very believable in his own insecurities and trials. We do see much of him and this constantly throughout the movie, but his character isn't the one that drives to plot. He is merely one of the many pieces of debris that we can observe in this movie. He's one of a lot of "jerks" in this, but his performance is solid and hits the nail straight on the head - as always!

Status

Out on a collector's box celebrating the work of Dame Judi Dench.

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