Posts Tagged ‘trevor howard’

This was Cary Grant’s penultimate film, before he retired from acting – and it shows that while he may have felt the time was coming when he should hang up his hat, he had certainly lost none of his charisma and screen presence. In this film, he plays against type as Walter Eckland, a slacker who is dragooned into living on an isolated island during WW2, from where he can report any signs of Japanese ships or planes. His life is shaken up with the arrival of schoolteacher Catherine Freneau (Leslie Caron), who has been stranded on the island with a number of schoolgirls…

Cary Grant was a master at romantic comedies, and this is probably one of his best. I really liked Grant with a more scruffy unshaven look (he himself said that this role was the closest to what he was actually like in real life), and his performance here is spot on, and very funny. Leslie Caron is also great – she looks lovely and brings a lot of comedy to her role, although she always reminds me of Audrey Hepburn (and I actually think Audrey would have been wonderful in this role also).

The idea of two mis-matched people being thrown together is nothing new (see The African Queen and Heaven Knows Mr Allison, for two comparable films), and as this is a romantic comedy, you can probably guess where it’s going, although the ending is still a delightful surprise.

For my money, this is one of Cary Grant’s better films – I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would certainly recommend it!

Year of release: 1964

Director: Ralph Nelson

Producer: Robert Arthur

Writers: S. H. Barnett, Peter Stone, Frank Tarloff

Main cast: Cary Grant, Leslie Caron, Trevor Howard

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David Lean adapted Noel Coward’s play ‘Separate Lives’ into the famous film Brief Encounter (it was one of three of Coward’s plays that Lean adapted).  Celia Johnson plays Laura Jesson whose voiceover narrates the story of how she meet and falls in love with Dr Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard), when a chance meeting at a railway station brought them together.  But they are both married to other people, and while they start to meet up every Thursday, they also realise that their love story cannot have a happy ending.

The British Film Institute rates this as the second best British film ever made (the first, if you’re wondering, is The Third Man).  However, while I found it watchable, I did feel slightly let down by it.  I felt that it had not aged well – although of course, it’s over 60 years old and no doubt the same could be said about many films from that time.

Celia Johnson was fantastic as Laura, and she brought sympathy and humour to her character.  Trevor Howard was fine as Alec, but the acting honours really should belong to Johnson.  She also had the more likeable character, whereas Alec’s conscience didn’t seem nearly as bothered by their relationship than Laura’s, and this made me warm to him less.

Laura’s husband Fred (Cyril Raymond) played a small but important part, and I really felt more for his character – although I would have picked him over Alec any day!

One thing the film did very well indeed was to encapsulate the period that it was set in. Britain was going through post-war rationing, social attitudes were very different, and people were more reserved, and the reservation and social niceties are demonstrated here.

Overall, I can see why some people might class this as a romantic classic – however, I found it to be good, but not great.

Year of release: 1945

Director: David Lean

Writer: Noel Coward (play – uncredited), Anthony Havelock-Allan (uncredited), David Lean (uncredited), Ronald Neame (uncredited)

Main cast: Celia Johnson, Trevor Howard

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