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The Crowded Day / Song of Paris (DVD + Blu-ray)
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The third release of the BFI s pioneering Adelphi Collection is a double bill showcasing two early films by John Guillermin (The Towering Inferno, Death on the Nile). The Crowded Day (1954) is an engaging, bittersweet comedy-drama focusing on the intertwined lives of a group of shop girls working in a London department store in the 1950s, with a wonderful cast including John Gregson, Joan Rice, Dora Bryan, Thora Hird, Prunella Scales, Sid James and Dandy Nicholls; Song of Paris (1952) is a charming romantic comedy which sees an archetypal Englishman - suavely played by Dennis Price - return from a jaunt abroad to face a dastardly foreign Count in a duel for the hand of a beautiful mademoiselle.
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A fascinating glimpse into the 50's in the UK.
A cavalcade of stars,whe when this was filmed,where just starting out.
Beautiful clear clean Bluray transfers 1.33 4.3 and at a great price too
CROWDED DAY - 1954 Black and White - produced by Adelphi in an attempt to break into the main feature market this curious film was rejected by both major exhibitors and was a major failure for the company.
It is exactly what it says, so crowded it is very difficult on one viewing to remember who the kaleidoscope of cameo parts are played by the long list of well known actors employed for one or two days shooting, don't be fooled most only appear in one or two short scenes.
The only substantial parts are Peggy Finch (Joan Rice) and Leslie Randall (John Gregson) coupled in a contentious romance in the crowded department store.
However fifty seven years later it is an intriguing glimpse into the department store staff living in a hostel due to shortage of post war accommodation, reminders of actors seen in a multitude of films of the time, and also to changing attitudes.
SONG OF PARIS - 1952 Black and white - A routine example of a budget film of the time with an off the shelf plot, but rescued by the vivacious performance and singing of Clementine (Ann Vernon) a French actress who had a long film career mainly on the continent.
Excellent transfer and booklet, but the provision of both Blu Ray and DVD discs increases the cost to a point which can hardly be justified for the average buyer.
The Crowded Day (AKA: Shop Spoiled) is directed by John Guillermin and adapted to screenplay by Talbot Rothwell from a story by John Paddy Carstairs and Moie Charles. It stars John Gregson, Joan Rice, Freda Jackson, Patricia Marmont, Josephine Griffin, Sonia Holm, Patricia Plunket, Rachael Roberts and Vera Day. Music is by Edwin Astley and cinematography by Gordon Dines.
Bunting and Hobbs Department Store, Christmas week, and the shop girls deal with what life has to throw at them this yuletide season.
A rare British movie that if only for the fine ensemble cast of actors gathered, should see it more widely known. By definition it's a bitter- sweet picture, blending comedy with drama is never easy to do, but the makers here manage to pull it off with some skill. The focus is on the post-war working women of this particular department store, this provides the story with a number of different character threads, all intelligently scripted by Rothwell.
From the heavy duty angle of an unmarried pregnancy and the desperation that can cause, to more lighter themes of jealously as a weapon and getting one's own back on the supervisor, there's enough here to either tug the heart or put a smile on the face. Guillermin does a fine job with his direction, with his camera work very effective for each character strand.
When the story is of the dramatic kind, he (and Dines) brings noir visuals into play, with foreboding shadows reflecting the mood of the players and canted angles enhancing psychological discord. For the more fluffy aspects of plotting, the camera is mobile and breezy, the lighting perky as Christmas comes forth from the screen.
The Crowded Day is a twin axis thing at heart, it shows us all that the holiday season often works on different levels for many. Where some have the world at their feet, others are prone to misery. Food for thought. 8/10
Print I viewed was absolutely pristine, showed on the UK Sky Arts Channel. BFI have released it as part of their Adelphi Collection in a double Blu-ray and DVD package that also contains Guillermin's Song of Paris.
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