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Hamer Radshaw (Sir Michael Redgrave) rises from a Manchester slum to an important post in the British Cabinet but, along the way, his strong Socialist beliefs undergo modifications to the extent that, while maintaining them in principle, he diametrically opposes them in practice. His "spur" for prosperity and social status causes him to sacrifice his ideals and friends, including allowing his wife, a fighter for women's rights, to be jailed.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Ramsay MacDonald was ten years gone when Fame Is The Spur was made in which Michael Redgrave as Hamer Radshaw plays the idealistic young socialist who gradually becomes more conservative. In the end like MacDonald, Redgrave ends up co-opted by the very forces he fought against.
Years after I saw this film I read a biography of John Connally where Lyndon Johnson offered this assessment of his friend and protégé, that Connally was always impressed by those oak paneled boardrooms. So to was MacDonald, impressed by the very trappings of the society he sought to radically change when he started out.
There are several critical differences in Hamer Radshaw to MacDonald as we follow his career up to the beginning of World War II. He's contrasted with Bernard Miles whose character is based on a combination of Arthur Henderson and Ernest Bevin. He's a trade union man like Ernie Bevin, but Bevin was in the second ranks of the Labour Party movement in the early days. The positions of Henderson/Miles and MacDonald/Redgrave are reversed in regard to World War I. MacDonald voted against entering the war, never supported and took a lot of hits because of it. That stand was probably his finest hour. Henderson on the other hand was a member of first the Asquith and later the Lloyd George Coalition government.
Still Miles never forgets where he came from and why he got into politics in the first place.
By all accounts MacDonald and his wife were a happily married couple as Rosamund John and Redgrave are here. They did in fact have children, one of them Malcolm MacDonald had a distinguished career of his own. Here they are childless and Redgrave is shown taking a peerage and justifying it on the grounds that he had no heir to leave it to. Still it's a sharp contrast to the Manchester slum youth from where he started. In real life MacDonald did not go into the Lords and after this film was made future Labour Prime Ministers like Clement Atlee and Harold Wilson did go in the House Of Lords after their ministry was concluded.
The career and policies of Ramsay MacDonald is still a subject of lively debate among historians, but in Hamer Radshaw, Michael Redgrave captures a good deal of the character of MacDonald and why he did a lot of the things he did. Fame Is The Spur is a fine film and a favorite of mine among the work of Michael Redgrave.
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