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Maurice Elvey's last film is a brittle comedy with a serious theme as
an old-line British advertising firm finally decides to not
automatically fire women after they get married.... and the newly
married leads find out that progress has its costs.
Elvey had a long career in British films, forty-four years behind the camera and almost two hundred films, sometimes head of production at his studio, but he seems to have been the forgotten man of the British cinema. With a few exceptions, his works are not well remembered and even his best-known successes, such as HINDLE WAKES have their flair attributed to others. Part of this is that he has no easily recognized style: his choices always serve the picture, rather than changing the picture to suit his style. Critics, film students and reviewers always like it when you can tell who directed a film without actually having to read the credits. Elvey was too canny for that. Let's look at a couple of tricks he pulls out of his pocket that you might not notice if you weren't looking for them.
In this movie, Elvey's camera is largely still; the few sequences in which it moves - in particular, a scene in which the wife is about to leave on a business trip -- the camera moves only to maintain composition.
This being a working class comedy, even if the people are upper class workers, Elvey has an air of depression and cheapness in the details, from the annoying radio jingles to the way doors sound when they close, to the way that water heaters refuse to work properly. This is a very accomplished rendition of what could have been another meaningless programmer, like so much of Elvey's work.
The film industry was collapsing, not only in Britain, but over the world. Someone had to retire, and who better than a seventy-year-old back number like Elvey? People never knew what they missed.
This is a fairly undistinguished supporting whose only point of interest is he fact the working women were expected to give up their careers when they got married.There was no protection for women against being fired for this reason.Adrienne Corrie is so brilliant that Bill Frasier convinces his board of directors to change their policy.Incidentally at this time Frasier was having a great success on TV as Sergeant Major Smudge in The Army Game.His is the best performance followed by Richard Wattis.Adrienne in an early role is reasonable enough as the ambitious advertising executive.This film is pretty unphotogenic and could have been easily made as a radio or television play.Clearly no expense was incurred in the making of this film.The direction can at best be called perfunctory.This is proof of the fact that the better supporting features were thrillers.No wonder the director retired after this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
At least the unusual advertising background gives this little romantic comedy a bit of interest and the splendid efforts of the support cast do largely overcome the lethargy induced by Maurice Elvey's tired and totally uninspired direction. This was Elvey's 195th and final movie. He died in 1967. He was formerly a Broadway actor and stage director. He started directing movies way back in 1913. So it's a real shame he didn't go out on a better note than this! Admittedly, the lead players in this movie, namely Thorley Walters, Adrienne Corri and Lisa Gastoni, are disappointingly colorless though some of the minor players, particularly Richard Wattis and Bill Fraser, certainly give attractive accounts of their screen characters and production values are similarly mediocre, especially the uncompromisingly drab photography contributed by Arthur Graham.
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