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William K. Howard
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Frank Burdon is a new reporter on a small-town Scottish paper. He's told to interview local politician William Gow, then left in charge of the paper overnight. He sees Gow being high-handed to a woman who can't afford to license her dog, and decides to run that story instead of the expected puff piece. Both are decent men, but a little too proud to back down, and the battle escalates into a criminal case... but at the same time, Burdon and Gow's daughter Victoria are falling in love.Written by
An apparent piece of froth hides a satire of Hitler
Why isn't this excellent comedy better known? More to the point, why is it so consistently misinterpreted? Most commentators view it as an amusing piece of froth about the provost of a small Scottish town (Cecil Parker) ordering that a dog be put down because its owner cannot pay for its licence. There's Vivien Leigh as the provost's daughter and Rex Harrison on top form as the journalist who makes the silly story national news. It's all very funny and delightfully played by all concerned. But underlying this story (adapted from a German play by James Bridie) is a subtle satire of dictatorship as was then current in Germany and Italy. Parker's role is very clearly based on Hitler, a times quite unsettlingly so, and it is in the bold but successfully intermingling of whimsy with dictatorial manners that the film gains its particular power. Cute it may seem to be, but Victor Saville was a wise and quite a subversive soul, and you'll find few other films from this period that so ably blend the dark with the light. Take a look at it again and see what I mean!
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