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In 1939 Gracie Fields, the 'Queen of Hearts', is at the height of her success as a singer and actress and the whole nation seems to wish her a speedy recovery from cervical cancer. When World War Two breaks out, Gracie sings for the troops despite poor health, to the dismay of her fussy husband, film director Monty Banks, an Italian, born Mario Bianchi. With Italy's entry into the war Monty is in danger of being interned so Gracie consents to his moving to America whilst she tours Canada, fund-raising for the war effort. She is accused of deserting the country which made her famous and booed offstage, though she later tours battlefields as a singer. With the war over she regains popularity, performing 'Take Me To Your Heart Again' at the London Palladium. Banks dies in 1950 and, though still a successful singer, Gracie never regains her pre-war iconic status. Written by
don @ minifie-1
Jane Horrocks herself a northern lass was a good choice to play Gracie Fields, the singer from Rochdale who at a time in the 1930s was the highest paid film star in the world. Somehow I cannot recall ever watching any of her movies.
Gracie! is less of a biopic more a focus on her relationship with the Italian film director (and silent film star) Monty Banks who was at a time a big name in Hollywood directing Gracie Fields films.
Fields became seriously ill with cervical cancer in 1939. The public sent over 250,000 goodwill messages to her and she went to her villa in the island of Capri to recover.
With the outbreak of war and Italy entering World War 2 allied with Germany tested her relationship with the British public and the government as well as with Monty. He was regarded as an undesirable alien, Gracie was treated with suspicion and both went to Canada where Gracie could perform and raise funds for the British forces. Even then Monty had to flee to California and look to get US citizenship.
The film portrays Fields struggle between love and duty during the war and the repercussions after the war.
Horrocks plays Gracie as someone who was eager to please her fans, singing songs to entertain the troops at a drop of a hat with no regard to preserve a voice. We get to hear some of her popular songs.
Horrocks and Tom Holland (Monty Banks) give a good and sincere performance but you get little indication about what made Gracie Fields so popular. We can see her adoring fans always wanting more from her, who also then turn on her as well. There might be a reason why Gracie turned her back on Britain and lived in Capri, a place she adored very much.
This is a low budget bio-pic and you could argue that Horrocks cannot quiet reach Gracie's singing notes.
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