Four Days (1951)
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During the next few days Byron comes to realize she loves her husband. Unfortunately, McDermott, believing his wife is about to leave, attempts suicide. He survives a great fall but loses his memory. Now an amnesiac, McDermott is blissfully in love with his devoted wife. Yet Byron fears their bliss is temporary, because if her husband's memory returns, he will surely hate her.
Reynolds then returns to the plot to blackmail Byron and threatens to reveal all to the unknowing McDermott. The cast is exceptional, the dialogue and direction is very good. The plots sounds too much like Coronation Street, yet it is all pulled off in a pleasing manner by a very good team of professionals.
Hugh McDermott plays Francis, a man whose business is in trouble; as a result, he's been neglecting his wife Lucienne (Kathleen Byron). A ne'er do well, Johnny (Peter Reynolds), one of her husband's employees, has been making time with her.
When Francis returns unexpectedly from a successful trip to America, he catches Johnny and Lucienne together. Johnny's been forging company checks, and looming over him is the fact that Francis now will certainly turn him in. Panicked, Lucienne spikes Francis' brandy with pills. It's not a success. The next day, Francis attempts suicide and when he comes to, he doesn't remember anything of the previous four days.
Well, here's a man whose built his company from nothing. He's just made an important deal that will return them to earlier success and, finding the wife he's been ignoring has a boyfriend, decides to throw himself off of a cliff. Odd. I found it odd.
One of the reasons it was unclear to me I guess is because I'm dense or maybe the attempted murder scene threw me off. Johnny is also going to drink brandy until Francis signals him not to. He then knocks Francis' glass from his hand. Francis in turn has a fit and throws the brandy decanter across the room. I admit I thought he was angry with Johnny but I guess he did realize that Francis was trying to kill him.
The other thing that was a little curious to me was that Lucienne was ready to leave this guy and suddenly she hates Johnny and is madly in love with her husband again.
Someone said the film could have been great if it had ended earlier - I actually could have used a little more development.
Nevertheless, the acting was fine - Byron went on to have a very important role in Black Narcissus and worked into the 20th Century. Not a great beauty, she nevertheless has a compelling look. McDermott went on to character roles - here, he is very dapper.
Imported American leading man Hugh McDermott (a familiar face in British B's throughout the 1950's) and Kathleen Byron add a touch of class to this neat little quota quickie. They effortlessly portray the emotions and passions of the troubled couple's plight giving the proceedings an 'A' film quality. Peter Reynolds is also noteworthy as the shady Johnny; the kind of role he played in many small British films during the fifties and early sixties. An early offering by director John Guillermin, who would go on to enjoy a notable 'A' film career with Town On Trial, Never Let Go, Death On The Nile and the remake of King Kong etc. Considering the budgetary restrictions that must have been placed upon him on this, he succeeds in generating some admirable suspense and tension from the situations that arise in the script. My only slight criticism of it is that the film goes for the usual predictable 'B' movie ending and that does somewhat spoil the effect a little. If this one had been expanded upon a bit, this would have easily been a minor classic.
Four Days was recently screened at the BFI Southbank (formerly the National Film Theatre) in London and is avaliable on DVD paired with Henry Cass's comedy thriller Booby Trap.
I started to watch this film with fairly low expectations. However I was pleasantly surprised. Directed by John Guillermin (who latterly was responsible for films such as 'The Towering Inferno') and with a good cast and fine cinematography from Ray Elton, this film is better than I expected.
Guillermin was only four years into a long career as a director and by contrast this was Elton's penultimate film as cinematographer. The plot of the film owes much to melodramas of an earlier time, and the end result could have been somewhat old-fashioned; however what emerges is a quite watchable and engaging film, even if the plot is a little lacking.