Despite living in modest conditions, Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price) is in line to receive the title of Duke of Chalfont, with the only problems being the many and varied members of his mother’s family, the D’Ascoynes (Alex Guinness), currently living and either holding the position or being further up the chain of succession than Louis. After the family denies his disinherited mother’s dying wish of being buried in the family cemetery, Louis sets out a mission to prune the D’Ascoyne family tree until he sits at the top with the title of Duke, hoping that will not only make amends for how his mother (Audrey Fildes) was treated, but will also win Louis the heart of his childhood crush Sibella (Joan Greenwood). Continue reading →
If I’ve never heard of the film I’m watching, I usually assume it’s from the 1001 or 5-star lists, as though I’ve heard of a lot of films, these lists are peppered with some pretty obscure titles, so I was surprised to find this 1944 British film to be sitting at number 176 on Empire’s reader-voted top 500 and nowhere else.
Writing/directing/producing duo Powell & Pressburger, of the previously reviewed the Red Shoes and Black Narcissus, here tell the story of an earnest and open-minded American soldier alighting from his train a stop early in the small Kent town of Chillingham during World War 2. With the next train not scheduled that day, he hangs around and assists the locals in the search for a man terrorising the female residents by pouring glue in their hair.
There is some nice back-and-forth dialogue, and interesting ruminations on the famous Pilgrim’s Road, blacksmithing, church organs and UK/US comparisons, but also a lot of “Say, what’s that over there?” mundanity. The creative use of lighting is interesting, with a face and body all in darkness with only the eyes illuminated, but the ending is too twee and nicely tied up for my liking.