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If you ever heard the comedy "Round the Horne" on radio in the mid
1960s on the BBC light programme, a couple called Dame Celia
Molestrangler & Binky Huckerback (played by Betty Marsden and Hugh
Latimer) were often comically featured parodying old fashioned
actors/actresses.I thought that "A Song for Tomorrow" (1948) was just
the sort of hammy acting style the comic scriptwriters had in mind when
penning the script for this radio comedy.This film obviously had
serious pretencions for high serious musical opera but an editor should
have been let loose in the cutting room to snip out the overly long
singing sequences to give some relief to those members of the audience
bored by classical music of "Samson & Delilah" type high opera.The
downside with all this singing was that for an 80 min.film less time
was devoted to the dialogue fleshing out the main characters, plot and
motivation.In fact I fell asleep in the armchair and I do like
classical music but it was top heavy in this film.
I noticed in the IMDb.com full cast list that Evelyn Maccabe who played Helen Maxwell was not given any credit and she was the female lead!!She had a pleasant enough contralto voice in the afore mentioned Verde opera.Other character actors I spotted were a young Christopher Lee playing Auguste, the ubiquitous Sam Kydd playing the sergeant, and James Hayter as Nicholas Klausman who played Helen's singing coach putting on a phony German type accent.The finely chiselled facial features of Shaun Noble as Derek Wardell, the amnesiac from WWII certainly could not act and to my knowledge I am not aware of any other film he made.Presumably his piano/organ playing was dubbed on by the producer a common trick in the film world with actors who have no musical ability.The one actor I immediately spotted was Ralph Michael as Dr.Roger Stanton who in my book played the professional gambler in the classic 1958 film "A Night to Remember".This character tries to get Derek Wardell over his amnesia by a combination of surgery and hearing Helen singing.
I struggled to the end but could only rate it average with 5/10.
The Labour government decided to put a stop to the importation of American films to stop the dollar drain by putting a swinging tax on them.The Americans stopped importing new films which left rather a void.Rank was encouraged to fill this with an enlarged production programme.So many films such as this were produced.This was made at Highbury studios,which was the home of the Rank Charm School.Christopher Lee was an alumni.This explains not only his presence but that of so many other actors,who unlike him,were never heard of again.Unfortunately by the time this film reached the cinema the government reached a compromise with the Americans.In came a flood of American films,sweeping away everything in their path.As a result by 1950 Rank had an overdrafts of 12 million.This meant the closure of a number of small studios such as Highbury and the end of the charm school.As a fan of Round the Horne I can safely say that Bonnie Hucherback and Dame Celia Molestrangler would have done a far better job.There is too much music and too little plot.In the end I fast forwarded through the music,which only left the feeble plot.
Coming from the same Rank stable as PENNY AND THE POWNALL CASE (also
1948), there is no doubt this time round that the title (a mere 59
minutes in length) under review was commissioned merely to showcase the
vocal talents of Evelyn McCabe; for some odd reason, despite obviously
being the leading lady, she does not even rate a credit on IMDb (which
must be a first for a film's star)! This, however, could be explained
by the fact that, in all probability, this was the singer's only
vehicle and the movie itself had been out of circulation for the
longest time (I only viewed it on "You Tube" myself, albeit via a copy
that suffered from audio and video glitches around the half-way mark!).
Incidentally, this not only marked Terence Fisher's inauspicious debut
as director but, interestingly, he got to collaborate with Christopher
Lee (suavely-moustached and affecting a French accent as a swanky
restaurant owner in his one scene) right off the bat however, while
fifth-billed during the opening credits, the future Horror icon gets
relegated to thirteenth (and last) for the full cast list at the
The plot seems to be somewhat derived from (the hugely successful) THE SEVENTH VEIL (1945) which, likewise, had incorporated classical music, psychology and numerous suitors for the heroine here, a middle-aged surgeon (Ralph Michael, also from PENNY AND THE POWNALL CASE) and an amnesiac pilot. In fact, the former who had been after the singer for years, but she had always put her career first brings the latter into her life since her voice (casually heard) proves the young man's only connection with his former self (he has even conveniently forgotten all about his devoted girlfriend, whom the doctor rather foolishly fails to inform his own intended about)! However, he apparently can still fiddle around with a piano and a church organ I guess making him a musician was a not-too-subtle way of creating an opportunity for plugging Miss McCabe's repertoire every 15 minutes or so! As much as the musical interludes are an acquired taste, James Hayter's flustered German impresario for whom the world seems to revolve solely around his discovery's upcoming performance in the "Samson And Delilah" opera is at least as hard to take!
This is a real tear-jerker! *dries eyes* Derek has been injured in the war
and is in hospital to have an operation. The doctor opens the window and
lovely singing of Helen Maxwell drifts into the room as Derek is
anaethetised. Alas, when he wakes up it is with his memory gone. He doesn't
remember his fiancee, and his mother is a stranger to him.
Four years later, Derek is playing the piano in a club, and Helen appears as the singer. The moment she opens her mouth, he freezes - he recognises her voice! It turns out Helen's voice is the only thing he can remember from before his operation, and his doctor encourages her to spend time with him, and sing to him, to see if she can help bring his memory back. They end up falling in love, but his memory does not return. Then the doctor thinks of one last idea, the final chance at bringing back Derek's memory, but in doing so, Helen faces the fact that she may lose him forever, and has to make a heartbreaking choice.
Good for a rainy afternoon tear-fest, but a little quick at just an hour in length. 9/10
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