Candy is a fetching unwed young lady with a penchant for pregnancy. Her adventures begin when she leaves her sheltered boarding school background for Paris. The result is the birth of Valentine nine months later.
'Gus is an uncle! Gus is an uncle! Gus is an uncle!'
This is one of the most charming films about childhood which has ever been made. It has never been released on video or DVD and has never previously been reviewed on IMDb, presumably because no one has seen it for nearly half a century. I obtained a DVD of an off-the-air recording which must have been made in the 1970s. The film was co-produced and directed by Desmond Davis, between his films GIRL WITH GREEN EYES (1964) and I WAS HAPPY HERE (1966, see my review). All three of these films are true masterpieces of cinema. One of the reasons for the success of these films is the inspired camera work of Manny Wynn, who was cinematographer on only 11 films before dying in 1975, only 11 years after his first film, GIRL WITH GREEN EYES and 18 years after he commenced his career as focus puller in 1957. No information is recorded concerning his age, but he must have died very early. He was a master of inspired hand-held camera work and dynamic shots, with some unusual framing. In this film, the sequence of little Gus wandering forlornly with a plate of sandwiches through a crowd of oblivious grownups at a party is brilliantly done to stress Gus's view of things, shooting both up and from above to stress the differences in height, perspective, and size. The 'uncle' of the title is a seven year-old boy named Gus, who is the uncle of another seven year-old boy named Tom because Gus was a late addition to the family, being about twenty years younger than his sister. Gus's father is gently played by Rupert Davies, forever remembered as Inspector Maigret. Gus is played by a perfectly delightful little boy named Robert Duncan, who was a child actor in five films between 1961 and 1969 and then vanished, with no further information recorded about him. The year after this he played the young Tsarevitch in RASPUTIN (1966). This film exquisitely portrays the total separation and lack of comprehension between the world of adults and the world of children. This film is based on the novel THE UNCLE by Margaret Abrams (her second novel, published 1962), who did the screenplay jointly with Davis. The script is as inspired as the film. The story is really the story of Gus, of his loneliness and his attempts to learn abut life. He receives very little help from the adults, and he is so isolated from his playmates that he considers the nearby owner of a small sweet shop, Mr. Ream, 'my best friend'. He is devastated when Mr. Ream dies in his sleep of heart trouble, and insists on attending his funeral, which is a sombre affair where Gus thoughtfully watches the coffin being lowered into the ground and comes to terms with mortality, though not without tactfully asking his own father afterwards: 'How do you feel?', worrying whether he too might suddenly die. Gus often plays with a gang of local children, but they taunt and tease him about being an uncle at the age of only seven, and say it is 'indecent'. They go around chanting maliciously: 'Gus is an uncle!' as if nothing could be more shameful. Gus's nephew of the same age as himself is an out-of-control and rather violent boy who crashes into everything and smashes things on purpose, punches Gus in the face, and behaves without restraint because of having feeble parents. Gus is more thoughtful and meditative. He takes refuge in a large abandoned house, where he carries his budgie in a cage, a book, some food, and dozes in an abandoned armchair while he worries about things. He does this throughout most of the summer, becoming increasingly alienated from the other children, whom he joins however whenever there are huge 'combats' modeled on cowboys. Never has such an intense duel of cap pistols been filmed before or since, and Davies accentuates the juvenile perception of the playing by overlaying a sound track taken from a cowboy film, with real guns and ricochets resounding very loudly indeed. This has an excellent evocative effect. As with I WAS HAPPY HERE, Davies includes many closeup cutaways showing details of things, in this film the concentration being on the perfect time capsule of Mr. Ream's sweet shop, with all of its little signs and quaint offerings to appeal to children. Anyone interested in the decline of civilization and the decadence of our contemporary world might care to contrast the way children are treated today (suffocated with excessive attention and turned into spoilt brats, held prisoners in their houses and terrified of going onto the lawn or the street lest some unimaginable fate befall them) and the careless disregard shown towards them by the adults in this film. The parents think nothing of dropping their children on suburban street corners alone, or leaving them in the house for hours unattended, permitting them also to wander around for miles at random, without any fears or neuroses about it. In other words, the children in this film are as free-ranging as the best organic chickens, and no yolks are broken. Alas, seeing films about a saner world like this brings home how insane a world we now all inhabit. This film is a classic, and all children should see it, if only to learn how to be children. All parents should see it, if only to be shamed for their decadent neuroses. And all cinema lovers should see it because it is wonderful. But possibly there is a European Union directive which would prohibit people from watching this film, or at least the Health and Safety Executive would ban it, since if its message were to be taken to heart, it might cost many of them their ridiculous jobs and the perverse culture of fear which dominates our lives today might be slightly dissipated.
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