Saturday, 26 January 2008

Went The Day Well?

There is something about black and white films which makes everything classier, isn't there? Although colour television has been around all my life, it was a b/w television I took to university (belonging to Our Vicar's Wife) and I enjoyed my monochrome world for a while. A little more distant, perhaps, but so entertainment ought to be - I'm suspicious of this High Definition thing coming in; I don't want to feel as though I'm 'in' the television. I want to escape there for a bit: not the same thing.

The b/w film I watched tonight was Went The Day Well? which several people recommended after I watched Mrs. Miniver some time last year. Really enjoyed it - quite pacey, which is the one thing many older films lack. Made in 1942
, it depicts what could have happened, had German troops infiltrated an English village, under the guise of being British soldiers. Lots of British Stiff Upper Lip and "There is a war on, you know" attitude. People sacrifice themselves for others all over the place, and there are genuinely touching moments to remind of a all-for-one England which probably never quite existed to the propagandists' extent. Amazing to think that the original audiences wouldn't have known how the war would end, nor whether or not England would be invaded.

Quite an emotional film - you definitely get caught up in the lives of these villagers, and it isn't comfort viewing, really, especially in 1942 I'd imagine.

Other reasons for watching this film:
- It's filmed in a village in Buckinghamshire called Turville, where The Vicar of Dibley was also filmed. And Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and more or less everything else.

-One of the main characters is a young Thora Hird!!
Don't know how well she is known outside the UK, but here she is renowned for chairlift adverts, Songs of Praise, and a sitcom about the elderly, Last of the Summer Wine. Difficult to believe she was ever young, but here she is, still rather older than I am, in the war.

Any other classic b/ws to recommend? Not necessarily from the war, but b/w please... I've had a few 'digitally remastered' or somesuch - such a disappointment! That feeling of class doesn't come from colour...


  1. My favourite B&W films are:
    To Kill A Mockingbird
    The Gunfighter
    A Hard Day's Night
    I think you've seen most of these with me - though I believe you're yet to read To Kill A Mockingbird. Oh, and you might want to check today's entry for spelling errors.

  2. I'm not sure in principle that I agree about B&W being "classier" as I find it hard to think of more "classy" cinematography than you might find in Kurosawa's "Ran" for example. However there are a huge number of B&W films that fit your classic category and I fully agree that you don't want them "colorized"!.

    How about "The Third Man", "Casablanca", "Jour de Fete", "The Last Picture Show", "Seventh Seal", "Metropolis", "Blue" (OK I am cheating a bit here as the screen is just blue all the time!)

    I could go on and on, but you will find plenty to entertain you in the lists that you will garner in your responses here.

    B&W Puss

  3. Try Powell & Pressburger's lovely "I know where I'm going" starring Roger Livesey and Wendy Hiller (who, of course, played Lady Slane in the excellent dramatisation of "All Passion Spent" many years later).
    And what could better "Brief Encounter"?

  4. Mr. Cornflower speaking (hijacking Mrs. C's blogger identity):-

    Two stand out: "Kind Hearts and Coronets" and "The Life and Times of Colonel Blimp" (a borderline case as one of the cinematographic devices is a switch from monochrome to colour).

  5. Brief Encounter, In Which we serve: both David Lean/Noel Coward collaborations. I Know Where I'm Going: stars Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey and is one of my favourite Powell & Pressburger films. Passport to Pimlico: so totally English. The Wicked Lady: Margaret Lockwood & James Mason, seventeenth century costume drama. I could go on as most of my favourite films are black & white.

  6. Ah, yes, love Brief Encounter! And loved Kind Hearts and Coronets when I saw it years ago. Must seek out some more of these recommendations, thanks for them, everyone!

  7. Ruth also asked me to post these: I'm keen to seek out L-Shaped Room, as I loved the novel...
    1941 The 49th Parallel dir Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

    1942 In Which We Serve dir David Lean & Noel Coward

    1943 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp dir Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

    1944 A Canterbury Tale dir Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

    1945 The Wicked Lady dir Leslie Arliss

    1947 Brighton Rock dir Ray Boulting

    1949 Passport to Pimlico dir Henry Cornelius

    1961 Victim dir Basil Dearden

    1961 A Taste of Honey dir Tony Richardson

    1962 The L-Shaped Room dir Bryan Forbes

    1964 King and Country dir Joseph Losey

  8. Went the day Well - one of my favourite films and still thrilling even today. I am always delighted Simon to find you love so many of the things I do! Obviously a person of great discernment....

  9. I have to agree with Colin and go "To Kill a Mockingbird", but "How Green Was My Valley" is another favourite of mine. It is very moving and always has me in tears.

  10. Thora Hird: Loved her reading of Alan Bennett's "Talking Head" story - forget the exact title right now - maybe about the cracker under the sofa(???), or the lady who was sent away because she spied on her neighbors so much and kept reporting them to the police(???). Hmmm, I need to find those CDs and have another listen.

  11. The BBC's website has a "Great Lives" episode about Thora Hird available for download. An amiable chat by people who knew, loved, and imitate her.


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