A dramatization of the shocking Barbara Daly Baekeland murder case, which happened in a posh London flat on Friday 17 November 1972. The bloody crime caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic and remains one of the most memorable American Tragedies...
1939 is set between present-day London and the idyllic British countryside in the time before the beginning of the Second World War. At a time of uncertainty and high tension, the story revolves around the formidable Keyes family, who are keen to uphold and preserve their very traditional way of life. The eldest sibling Anne is a budding young actress who is in love with Foreign Office official Lawrence, but her seemingly perfect life begins to dramatically unravel when she stumbles across secret recordings of the pro-appeasement movement. While trying to discover the origin of these recordings, dark secrets are revealed which lead to the death of a great friend. As war breaks out Anne discovers the truth and flees to London to try to confirm her suspicions, but she is caught and imprisoned and only then does she finally begin to discover how badly she has been betrayed. Written by
Stephen Polliakoff's work has shown some consistent concerns: two of them are a nostalgic view of the aristocratic past, and an interest in the aftermath of Nazism. These two come together in 'Glorious 39', which one may describe as a '39 Steps' kind of thriller; and in its middle portion, it's briefly gripping, albeit in a style that seems a deliberate pastiche of an earlier style of film. But overall, it's a rum beast, almost a parody of Polliakoff's earlier work. There are lines of incongruous or anachronistic dialogue, and much of the acting is exceedingly flat. Polliakof often casts Bill Nighy, and seems to order him to underact; in my opinion, all of Nighy's performances for this director are awful. The child acting is also exceedingly wooden. Ramola Garai in the lead role is OK, but she really gets almost no help; yet from the overall feel of the piece, it's hard to avoid concluding that this is intentional. The plot is incoherent and hackneyed: the good guys all want to fight the Nazis, the nasty people don't; even the use of an adopted child as the lead character seems to be a cheap way of having a cake and eating it, as it allows the director to revel in the aristocratic excess while simultaneously suggesting there was something terrible about it. The concluding scene, meanwhile, makes something out of nothing, a crescendo of music hiding the fact that there's no real drama in the ending. It's a shame, as for a number of years, Polliakoff's work was consistently interesting; but this is a mess.
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