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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Time stands still, here in the valley' . . ., 16 July 2011
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This review is from: The Halfway House [DVD] (1944) (DVD)
(As an addendum - it is one of the ineluctable rules of life that any hostelry in Britain named `The Halfway House' is worthy of your patronage)

It is gratifying to read the other five star reviews here and to realise that this neglected masterpiece is resurfacing. As the West spirals ever deeper into the cesspit, artefacts of sheer collective Goodness from our own not so distant past are needed more than ever.

This film has haunted me (the mot juste!) for years now and sitting down to concentrate on it on DVD a couple of days ago was an epiphany.

A previous reviewer here has called this `an allegorical masterpiece' and the name of the Inn alone is imbued with liminal resonance. The hostelry is a magical character in itself, and is the definitive Olde Worlde Inn in a sylvan setting.

If Mervyn and Glynis Johns had not appeared in other films, one could quite believe that these ethereal presences with their musical welsh lilt were truly denizens from another, better, world. Particular scenes that linger are the former whistling at the birds and the latter reassuring the musician one to one about his future course.

All the best films cast an enchantment, and in this subjective case no other film has come near to this.

There is a joyful cast of disparate characters (including a splendid pair of villains). They all have their lives altered by their stay at this charmed location and although the film works beautifully on the level of the supernatural alone, the vital importance of family, decent patriotism (the English, Irish and Welsh could all learn from this) and honourable conduct in life is also underlined.

The epiphany partly lies in realising that the right way of conducting oneself and thus helping to create a genuinely benign civilisation is NOT AT ALL DIFFICULT! The cesspit is one we have wilfully created, Swinburne-like (Thomas Carlyle memorably described Algernon Charles Swinburne as standing up to his neck in a cesspool and adding to its contents.)

So this is it - the ultimate desert island movie, vaulting over even 1957's `Night of the Demon.'

(And the wondrous 23rd psalm can rarely have sounded QUITE so meaningful as here)
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Nov 2011 11:38:59 GMT
In general agreement, but not sure how Swinburne comes into it, or your assessment of his work. Traditional morality is strengthened by being challenged, hence reading the works of Swinburne, Crowley, Rockingham etc can be morally fortifying.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Nov 2011 14:54:18 GMT
Thanks for your kind comments, Mr. Turner. Personally I find being Good hard enough as it is, without challenging the concept! But glad you agreed generally. Lovely film!

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Nov 2011 15:58:47 GMT
Hi Guy

Agreed on your answer to Mr Turner. In fact just as Mr Turner claims not to understand your comment about Swinburne [ seems clear enough to me :-) ] I'm not at all sure how one would be "morally fortified" by reading Crowley and the like.
(I guess it depends how one defines "moral".)

As to the film, I was 49% inclined but was about to pass on - until I read your review. Now I've ordered it. Thank you for a really useful review.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Nov 2011 17:49:18 GMT
Hello Kriss - I must admit that I was tempted at first to post back some facetious comment along the lines that, given the boost provided back in the day by such as Swinburne, Crowley etc, than how much more refined, scrupulous, wholesome etc must contemporary Western Culture be now that its Traditional Morality is being strengthened-through- challenge by the morally fortifying likes of Marilyn Manson, Gangsta Rap and the torture porn movie genre

I might then have enlarged on the topic to provide an historical context of other such wholly misunderstood because heroically self-sacrificing upholders-of-the-status-quo-through-challenge of the likes of Caligula, Lucrezia Borgia and the Marquis De Sade.

This in turn would have led to a disquisition opening onto new vistas of philosophical speculation viz: if this principle holds true for Good, does it also hold true for Evil? Thus, is the purity of Evil Doctrine maintained, because it is essentially protected from its innate tendency to disintegration, entropy and so forth, by the Goodness upheld in the philosophies of such as Confucius, the Buddha, the Christ? Is therefore, the philosophical expression of Goodness positively harmful in that it upholds Evil, and should we therefore limit our entire range of permitted philosophical speculation to mortally fortifying, because challenging, volumes such as `100 days in Sodom', `Liber 777' etc.

This,of course would have led to an absurdly lengthy and arcane reply to a couple of pleasant, perfectly well intentioned little comments.

So it's just as well I resisted the temptation, isn't it?

Seriously though, I am really glad this has made you purchase the film, Kriss. It doesn't seek to be profound, yet is all the more so for that. I just call it GOOD.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Nov 2011 18:15:38 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Nov 2011 18:17:57 GMT
Guy

"So it's just as well I resisted the temptation, isn't it?"

My congratulations on your amazingly robust powers of self-restraint

;-)))

Best wishes

Kriss

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Nov 2011 10:05:08 GMT
And enjoy the film - be good to see your take on it up here!

All the best

Guy

Posted on 15 Aug 2014 09:32:36 BDT
I've been to the house where it was filmed in Somerset.hasn't changed much,except it's not white anymore

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Aug 2014 11:05:32 BDT
How WONDERFUL! You are SO lucky! :)
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