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Kay, who works on a Thames River barge, and Steve are secretly in love with each other but do their best to hide it. Kay wants desperately to be a music-hall star and Steve wants to be a player in the world of high finance. An eccentric millionaire decides to do what he can to see that they achieve their dreams. Written by
Of Jessie Matthews in this film: Roger Phillip Mellor, in the Encyclopedia of British Cinema, notes " ...the image of her in Sailing Along (d. Hale, 1938), in a white evening gown, with a gentleman's black top hat and walking cane, performing 'Souvenir of Love' in Lime Grove's art deco luxury sets, indelibly incarnates 1930s style." See more »
Characters are inconsistent, but the film remains totally charming
I have seen all of Jessie's movies that have been restored to DVD, but as Sailing Along was the last one I happened to view I cannot help but to compare it with the rest of her catalogue rather than review it on its own merits. I should also point out that I have long considered Jessie to be one of the most beautiful and charming women to have ever been on screen, so the objectivity of my views will no doubt be compromised by this aspect.
With that having been said, I found Sailing Along to be an odd mix of character inconsistency and absurd story lines, balanced by wonderful comedic moments and bursting with charm from several leading players.
Roland Young provides much of the comedy and he had me laughing out loud more than once, but he is well supported in this venture by the always great Alastair Sim. But his obsession with discovering 'genius' makes him too big a twit for any of the other characters to take seriously, and this makes the basis of the story seem more improbable.
His wife's character - played by Athene Seyler - is unfathomably inconsistent as she is prepared to leave the house one minute when Jessie is presented as the next 'genius', but then a moment later becomes Jessie's strongest supporter after a predictably miserable failed audition.
Another strange aspect of this movie is the way in which the marriage between Jack Whiting and Margaret Vyner is presented. It is apparently completely acceptable for each to declare love for other people, and at a moment's notice. This aspect is so odd that it provided this viewer with confusion over the story-line on a few occasions, and seemed out of place with 1930s attitudes.
But the film is swooped up from these potentially damaging issues by the irresistibly charming Jessie Matthews, who shines throughout every scene. She dances, dives, pouts, cries, punches, head-butts, ballets, flirts, sings and laughs her way through a totally captivating performance incomparable with any of her other films. If she once said that making this movie was very difficult, it certainly does not show on the evidence the footage presents. In fact, her dance scene for a trio of male milk-drinkers is so full of flirtatious fun that she appears to be enjoying her role more than usual. Their mesmerized attentions to her performance seem silly at first, but by the end of the two or three minutes I could only imagine myself sitting right along side them, every bit as enchanted as they were.
Perhaps my score of 6 is a little harsh and it may actually deserve a 7, but then again I am comparing it with other favourites like Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia or My Fair Lady, so with that in mind I think a 6 is actually a pretty good score.
To sum up, if you like old movies then this one is well worth watching, but if you are a fan of Jessie Matthews herself, Sailing Along is positively indispensable!
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