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And then he slipped away, unnoticed
boblipton from New York City
5 March 2006
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
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.
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