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Ann Williams, secretary to eccentric drama critic Frederick Skeates, is persuaded to alter a ruinous review of Shakespearean actor Edmund Davey by Davey's wife Barbara. Davey's 'Othello' becomes a hit and Ann, even though fired by Skeates, becomes a fan of Davey and starts to fall for him, much to the jealousy of her boyfriend Tommy. At the prospect of involvement in an adulterous triangle, Ann recoils; but despite her resolution, the characters' love lives become ever more tangled and a real-life tragedy of Othello looms... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
SATISFYING FILM WITH VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MANY.
This melodramatic affair, with a comedic component prominent in its first half, showcases American Miriam Hopkins amidst an English cast and setting and she performs very well in a role that is not written in a unified fashion. Ann Williams (Hopkins) is personal secretary to Mr. Skeates, caustic theatre critic for the London Daily Post. Skeates has dictated to Ann a very negative review of a new production of Shakespeare's Othello, particularly focussed upon his perceived shortcomings of its titular lead, played by Edmond Davey (Sebastian Shaw). Before Ann has an opportunity for submitting the review to press, she is called on at her office by Barbara Halford (Gertrude Lawrence), the maligned performance's Desdemona and also Davey's wife. As a result of Barbara's entreaties in support of her husband, Ann alters the review causing Davey, who had suffered first-night jitters, to become a great success, after which Ann and he share mutual infatuation with complications ensuing. Director Walter Reisch is responsible for the work's storyline but the screenplay, written by others, falls short of his high standard. His direction is inventive throughout the quickly moving piece, and montage is seamless. Lawrence, a great actress, and Hopkins each displays keen awareness of the importance of body movement and control; there is not a slack moment when these share the screen. Indeed, the acting is quite good by most of the cast throughout, with the exception of the always peculiar Rex Harrison who performs as Ann's suitor with his customary prissy mannerisms; fortunately, his appearance time is minimal. Reisch, in accord with cinematographer Charles Rosher, provides thoroughly interesting visuals by way of cleverly designed shots employing fluid camerawork for tracking and full images as well as for closeups. As stated in the script by Skeates, the music is drawn from themes within the Othello Suite of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, augmented by a melodic Geoffrey Toye score. In a whimsical scene, Skeates enters his office, populated by a bevy of Daily Post secretaries, while a phonograph plays a jazzy rendition of "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" Vincent Korda's interiors are superb for this production under the aegis of his brother Alexander and the costumes crafted by Rene Hubert are faultlessly designed. Only the age of the available print reveals an editing misstep or two. The highly capable control of extras comes from one of the assistant directors, Jack Clayton, renowned later as helmsman of his own productions. This engaging love triangle features locations scattered through London, including Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square. The footage from Shakespeare's play (the title is from Act III/Scene IV) is shot in the venerable Alhambra Music Hall (now the famous film theatre Odeon) in Leicester Square within London's West End. It was the last performance given at the Alhambra, torn down at the completion of the filming of MEN ARE NOT GODS.
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