very rare anthology film of Morley Callaghan stories
The stories of celebrated Canadian author Morley Callaghan provide the source material for this rarely seen dramatic anthology, a bold endeavor from the embryonic days of Canada's feature film industry. NOW THAT APRIL'S HERE, in its four stories, examines a group of people fumbling with the complexities of love set in the time between winter bids farewell and spring arrives with a promise of fresh beginnings. In "Silk Stockings" young Don Borisenko is infatuated with the daughter (Judy Welch) of his landlady, a woman slightly senior to him whose flirting encourages the boy but who ultimately awards her time & attention to another. "The Rocking Chair" follows recent widower John Drainie, who believes the purchase of a rocking chair he had denied his late wife may ease the memory of her loss and provide some forgiveness to him. "The Rejected One" concerns a white collar youth (Tony Grey) who brings home his blue collar girlfriend a lingerie saleswoman (Nancy Lou Gill) for the first time and faces the disapproval of his family. In the final segment, "A Sick Call", an elderly priest (Georges Toupin) tries to ease the ire of a man (Walter Massey) whose wife is critically ill. The couple is of a different faith that they feel ostracized them from her family and now the woman's sister is adamant the Catholic priest must see the woman no matter how much the husband objects.
NOW THAT APRIL'S HERE was an ambitious undertaking for a project whose meager budget wouldn't likely cover the coffee budget on a contemporary Hollywood film. The stories present characters whose actions can be interpreted on more than one level. Love is at the core of each story, but rather than simply be a pure expression we see how it is distorted, in turn, by jealousy, guilt, indifference, and spite.
Set and shot in Toronto, NOW THAT APRIL'S HERE was the debut project of Klenman-Davidson Films, a joint venture by NFB veterans Norman Klenman and William Davidson. At a time when Technicolor & Cinemascope romantic melodrama from the likes of Ross Hunter and Buddy Adler were box office draws director Davidson employed a rawer style closer to the neo-realism of post-war European cinema, or even to his own documentary background. He strips away any superficial gloss to keep the focus solely on his characters. The cast is generally good if unspectacular, but there are key moments in each story that stood out for me: Don Borisenko's jumble of nerves while trying to buy a gift for the object of his affection; how Katherine Blake (in "The Rocking Chair") registers hurt when she realizes a lifeless object holds more weight than her own feelings; Nancy Lou Gill's nervous verbal outpouring as she is scrutinized by her boyfriend's family; and Georges Toupin's calm defenses against the angry protests of Walter Massey. Each of these moments hit precisely the right tone. Veteran actor Raymond Massey provides the opening narration, and the film's fine music score is by John Bath.
Barely exhibited upon its release, NOW THAT APRIL'S HERE is sadly neglected little movie, a rarity deserving resurrection. Klenman-Davidson (and many of the key crew members that worked on APRIL) made one more try at kick starting an English language feature film industry in Canada, making the motorcycle drama IVY LEAGUE KILLERS the following year. Had they succeeded with their initial forays a film making partnership akin to Britain's Archers could have found ground to grow in Canada. Ultimately it would be years before a vital industry was established, but these gentlemen deserve credit for their ambitions.
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