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The Good Companions (1933)

Film musical taken from JB Priestley's novel about three musicians joining together to save a failing concert party, the Dinky Doos.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Percy Parsons ...
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Florence Gregson ...
Frank Pettingell ...
Laurence Hanray ...
Annie Esmond ...
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Harold Meade ...
Solicitor
J. Fisher White ...
Vicar
Muriel Aked ...
Vicar's Wife
Arnold Riches ...
Hilary
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Storyline

Film musical taken from JB Priestley's novel about three musicians joining together to save a failing concert party, the Dinky Doos. Written by Anonymous

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

5 November 1935 (Portugal)  »

Also Known As:

Caravana Errante  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(British Acoustic)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First film appearance of Max Miller. Although he had been a major star of music-hall variety since the mid-1920s his material was judged too blue for broadcast, and his machine-gun delivery unsuited to early sound. See more »

Connections

Remade as The Good Companions (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

Let Me Give My Happiness to You
(uncredited)
Music by George Posford
Lyrics by Douglas Furber
Sung by Jessie Matthews
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User Reviews

 
magical film
3 March 2001 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

Jessie Matthews made a number of very charming British musicals during the thirties. (One of the better ones, FIRST A GIRL, an early version of VICTOR/VICTORIA, has just been released on video.) But THE GOOD COMPANIONS is not a musical, although it has musical sequences, nor is it really a Matthews vehicle, though she's prominently featured and outstanding.

It's a marvellous adaptation of J. B. Priestly's story of three individuals who are prodded by events into taking to the open road and who subsequently meet up with each other and a small troupe of entertainers called the Dinky Doos. The introductory sequence for each of the characters is delightful and meticulously detailed. Perhaps the best is Edmund Gwenn's; after a lifetime with the company he is sacked and decides to leave his shrewish wife. Gwenn has a wonderful great thick Midlands accent here; when checking a car that won't start, he finds the problem to be "mooky ploogs" (mucky spark plugs). This short sequence is so detailed, with characters so fully drawn (including a young Jack Hawkins) it could have made up a whole film. John Gielgud (in his first film) is a master at a threadbare school run by a tight-lipped puritanical battle-ax, who catches him mimicking her husband. Mary Glynne has spent her life nursing her invalid father; when he dies she decides to spend her small inheritance on the road before accepting a life of drudgery. Each of the three have amusing adventures on the road (some delightful plot construction here) before all winding up in the same tea room with the stranded Dinky Doos. They all decide, over a shared evening meal, to join together and form a new group called "The Good Companions." As they travel around England, Jessie Matthews (one of the Doos) gets larger and larger billing. (At first, one thinks she'll be a minor player in this early film, since she's not "featured" in the early group scenes, but it seems to have been a creative decision to have the most important character gradually insinuate herself into the film.) Finally, Gielgud gets music publisher-impresario Finlay Currie ("Me, in person, not a moving picture") to see the show, and, after further complications, Matthews and Gielgud are headed for the big time.

In so many of her films, Matthews plays an ingenue waiting to be discovered, and never for a moment does one feel that this is a writer's convention as is so often the case (think Joan Crawford's "dancing" being discovered in DANCING LADY). Jessie Matthews' ability and magnetism are so evident there's just no question that when the right person finally sees her perform her star quality will be instantly recognized. This was never more true than in THE GOOD COMPANIONS, where Matthews' vitality, youth, sex appeal and talent absolutely light up the film! Like every aspect of this film, the romance between Gielgud and Matthews is remarkable to behold.

She's so strong willed, so incandescent, Gielgud seems almost afraid to burn his fingers, yet dares to hold his own.

As with only the finest fairy tale fantasies, this is absolutely grounded in the real world, filled with sharp, rich characterizations and the details of its time and place. The episodic plot is sentimental yet honest, romantic yet realistic. The performances, from major to minor players, are uniformly excellent. But it's Priestly's story and Victor Saville's superb direction that make this a special experience. The film has a miraculous quality about it, a mysterious perfection that's like no other film I can think of. Of the thousands of films I've seen in the last fifty years this one of my very favorites. I've seen it twice theatrically and am eagerly looking forward to the video release so I can watch it again and again.


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