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So Long At The Fair [DVD] 
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It is 1889 and Paris is crowded with visitors for it is the eve of the opening of the Great Exhibition . Victoria (Jean Simmons) and her brother, Johnny (David Tomlinson), arrive to take part in the event. Leaving her brother at the bar Vicky retires to her hotel room for the night. Next morning she excitedly runs to see Johnny and is bewildered to find that both her brother and his room has disappeared. Her surprise turns to concern when all the other staff and guests deny ever seeing her brother. None of the authorities will believe her story, but by chance she meets a young English artist, George (Dirk Bogarde) who knows her story to be true. Together they must try to unravel the mystery.
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David Tomlinson (looking very serious and attractive playing 'straight') is Mr. Barton who simply vanishes into thin air over night leaving his sister (played by Jean Simmons) alone and destitute in France at the time of the Great Exhibition'. Not only that - but all trace of him; his room, his belongings along with any records or proof of him having ever existed!
This is one of those movies that (providing you don't know the story - and thus the outcome) will keep you hooked until the very end!
Dirk Bogarde also stars, but great credit must go to the fabulous and popular Great British actress Cathleen Nesbitt who once again plays a very convincing French woman with sinister undertones.
A collection of well-known faces and stars of British cinema in this, and I can't imagine anyone disliking it.
The DVD via Spirit Entertainment from Great Britain has an adequate transfer if on the soft side (it could have used a little more contrast too) but perfectly watchable.
Screenwise Hitch would have had a field-day with all this but he'd already travelled this route by train, of course, in the dear old days with Gainsborough. By the time the same company was bringing Thorne to the movies in 1949 Hitch was a VIP from Hollywood, filming in Britain under its aegis. Gainsborough's new production could certainly have done with his unique spark and his piercing intimacy. Terence Fisher's film is competent and charming but Vicky's initial alarm seems rushed and afterwards we settle in to a fairly low-key progression of events. A certain edge has been softened in transition. Johnny is boorish and irascible in the book but amiable and fond in the film (as played by David Tomlinson). The hotel-management, an old woman, her daughter and oily son-in-law become a potentially threatening trinity in the original but in the film are reduced to another brother-and-sister (interestingly), elderly and stubborn and a little pathetic. The movie's big plus lies in its star-team, Bonnie Jean in her damsel-in-distress period and Dirk Bogarde in his first sympathetic lead, they're great together. George is an American in the book but English here and their native decorum when posing as lovers to occupy another room in the hotel is amusingly counterpointed by the ooh-la-la assumptions of the old manager. The final revealing of Johnny's fate is stretched about as far as it will go and ends on a tentative note (at least we're spared that dreaded line "He's going to be all right")and Vicky exits with the new man in her life.
There's the odd corny moment - the ancient joke about looking at a picture upside-down - and one fainting-spell too many perhaps near the finish. But there's also Honor Blackman as George's hopeful lady-friend though her role in the story is reduced to practically nothing here before being closed-off altogether. Fellow Bond-girl Zena Marshall meets a more tragic demise as the little chambermaid, a potential witness for Vicky, who dies when an ascent by balloon goes horribly wrong. Benjamin Frankel's score provides L'Expo-pomp and traveller-dreaming and also introduces a lovely theme "Carriage and Pair" which became popular in its own right while working somewhat against the mood of the moment (let's forget Johnny for a spell and go for a clip-clop.) Sunny Paris by day, naughty Paris by night though it's all quite circumspect. La Goulue, the famous courtesan from the Moulin Rouge, is a character in the book but safely absent here. Wonder if Hitch liked it.
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It is a pity about the quality of the reproduction which is quite poor.Read more
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