Vicky Barton visits Paris with her brother Johnny, only to discover the following morning he has gone missing and the hotel staff have no recollection of his presence.Vicky Barton visits Paris with her brother Johnny, only to discover the following morning he has gone missing and the hotel staff have no recollection of his presence.Vicky Barton visits Paris with her brother Johnny, only to discover the following morning he has gone missing and the hotel staff have no recollection of his presence.
Suddenly there - next moment not
Ever since Miss Froy disappeared from a central European train in Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" the "Suddenly there - next moment not" film genre has made for sure-fire entertainment. Of all its many offshoots the one I often return to with great pleasure is the little known "So Long At The Fair" which stars a radiant Jean Simmons as a young English woman visiting the Great Paris Exhibition of 1889 with her brother (David Tomlinson) who disappears from his hotel bedroom after the first night of their stay. What is even more intriguing is that the room itself appears to have vanished. The rest of the film is almost entirely taken up with the girl's desperate search for her brother in a beautiful city that has suddenly become alien through her frightful circumstance and the lack of understanding and sympathy of most around her. Fortunately during the latter stages there is a Prince Charming to aid her quest in the form of Dirk Bogarde at his most gallant. If his reassuring presence takes away something of the film's tension, the scenes up to this point are almost unbearable as we share Jean Simmons's frustrations and watch her one lifeline to the truth she is telling come literally tumbling from the skies. Even knowledge of a most convincing denouement does not dissipate the film's many pleasures on subsequent viewings. These include Benjamin Frankel's delightfully catchy "Carriage and Pair" that actually made the "Top Ten" in its day, the beauty of Jean Simmons lovingly celebrated in a glorious closeup at the very beginning and that strange rarity for a British work of that period, a film in which the French characters actually converse with each other in their native tongue rather than resorting to "'Allo, 'Allo" speak, and this without a single subtitle. Expressions make everything abundantly clear.
- Mar 16, 2002
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