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Adapted from one of Thomas Hardy's lightweight early novels, this does
not have the complexity or depth of the likes of 'Jude the Obscure';
still, it is a portrait given to the comic of village life alongside a
simple young romance.
Fancy Day (Marguerite Allen) is a schoolteacher, although her voice would suggest a Royal upbringing - apparently her voice was dubbed, and not well. Dick Dewy (John Batten) is the son of a tranter and violinist in the village Quire, with some aspirations to succeed in life further than his father and grandfather. Of course he falls for Fancy at first sight, starting a rivalry with rich landowner Shinar (Nigel Barrie), who overacts somewhat, twirling his moustache while plotting his rival's downfall.
Is the film any good? It's not bad for an early sound film but suffers from the limitations of filming available in dialogue scenes; however, the photography by Claude Friese-Greene is beautiful and the music in the film (apart from the ghastly quartet singing the farmyard song) is very well done. The acting could be a bit better though and Wilfred Shine as the parson perhaps comes out the best.
This film was shown yesterday as part of the Barbican British Silents Festival.It is quite an impressive film in terms of production values,clarity of sound and mobility of the camera.This is probably the second talkie made in this country but is totally unknown unlike its predecessor blackmail.Strangely like Blackmail it has the voice of the leading lady,Marguerite Allen,dubbed by another actress.the reasons for this are unclear.The sound is by and large well recorded,maybe because they were using the RCA system.The Vitaphone recordings can sound rather tinny.The camera moves a lot which is unusual given the limitations of sound recording in the early years of sound.The acting is rather stagey and more attuned to the silent era.If you get the opportunity to see this film i do recommend that you take it.
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