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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 19 August 2015
Bought as a follow on as I purchased the Anna Neagle Collection which I thoroughly enjoy, especially Derby Day, I am becoming an Anna Neagle fan so seeing this bought it without hesitating. I really enjoyed the story. The only disappointment was the quality of the print used to copy as it had suffered some damage as there was an occasional jump in the movement which having worked in a cinema usually indicated a few frames missing. However I have onl rated the purchase on my enjoyment of the film.
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Ego-trips don't come more deliriously daffy than Anna Neagle's truly bonkers Lilacs in the Spring, a bizarre, wildly unfocused and woefully misbegotten musical revisit to past triumphs like Nell Gwynn, Sixty Glorious Years and Victoria the Great that sees Neagle's wartime ENSA entertainer pursued by desperately seedy director David Farrar in between fantasy sequences brought on when she's knocked out by a Doodlebug during the blitz. Unfortunately it never seems to have a clue what it wants to be from one reel to the next.

It's not exactly been thought through even on a technical level. Starting out in black and white for the wartime scenes, it goes into colour for the first fantasy scene before returning to black and white back in the real world. So far so Wizard of Oz, but then it goes into colour when the action briefly moves to Hollywood and her movie star father Errol Flynn: ah, you think, they're contrasting sunny LA with grim London. Nope - when we return to England, that's in colour too. Then the film settles down for a bit before a misunderstanding leads Neagle to realise that Farrar really is fantastically obnoxious when he's supposed to be irresistibly charming and dream that she's Queen Victoria again, dancing the scandalous "newfangled waltz" with Prince Albert before an unwanted phone call in the Windsor Palace ballroom leads her out of her reverie and the film then changes course yet again to follow her father's romance with her mother as she rose to stardom as a musical star before going into A Star is Born-lite mode before rushing back to 1944 to wrap things up.

Much of what passes for the film's plotting seems purely spur of the moment stuff dictated by what Neagle wanted to do that particular week, and generally she seemed to want to do the kind of things good friends should talk you out of. Neagle's first appearance as Nell Gwynn is a stunning moment, energetically skipping and cavorting away like a Whirling Dervish on speed with a look of pure backwards dementia on her face through choreography that puts her at constant risk of falling over like an aunt who's had a bit too much sherry at a New Year's party. Generally she's a bit better in her other musical numbers, but while she can do the steps - though there will usually be one particular bit in any complicated number she just can't manage - she always looks like she's learned them very diligently and can't really make them look fluid or natural, making the interludes rather stilted rather than a genuinely free expression of emotion or physicality. Flynn's not a great dancer either and his singing is about on par with her dancing, but he's on such charming and engaging form here that his enthusiasm carries him through his big number Lily From Laguna and perks up the picture whenever he appears, which sadly isn't quite often enough even if he has more to do in the second half than the first. Worse, for a vanity picture, even if she does found the Chelsea Hospital and inspire ENSA to entertain the troops in Burma (cue several Errol Flynn injokes), nothing that happens to Neagle is half as interesting as Flynn's subplot, and even that would be nothing to write home about without his charisma.

A curio, then, and one that can only safely be recommended to fans of either star looking to fill in the gaps in their collection (you can also spot an unbilled Stephen Boyd making his debut in a poolside scene, though Sean Connery, also making his debut, is lost somewhere in the crowd among the extras). Unfortunately ITV DVD's print has quite a few breaks in it, generally in the musical numbers to make them even more noticeable, while the washed out color is highly variable, making it an even less attractive proposition. No extras either, but, print damage aside, it is the uncut version rather than the shorter US version released as Let's Make Up.
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on 8 September 2009
I am American, and a film buff, but had not ever seen an Anna Neagle film until this was released on VHS here in the US in the early 1990's. I bought it on the basis of Errol Flynn and some curiosity about Ms. Neagle whom I had heard and read about a bit. I enjoyed the film (called "Let's Make Up" in America) , but with no real background, I was unaware of just how much a vanity production for Ms. Neagle this film actually was! That said, I don't wish the statement to be as negative as it might be. It is a vanity production, and allows Ms. Neagle to do selected scenes from several of her earlier pictures as well as some new material, however, what is here is charming and a great deal of fun. Errol Flynn, David Farrar and Kathleen Harrison add nice supporting roles, (but those expecting swashbuckling and/or rousing adventure from Mr. Flynn will be very disappointed) and Stephen Boyd is briefly seen as one of Flynn's Hollywood poolside friends in a bit part. I have since managed to see a great deal of Ms. Neagle's film work and consider myself a fan. I love her Nell Gwyn, Spring in Park Lane and Elizabeth of Ladymead, and her Victoria films among others. My American print has washed out color so I plan to order this in hopes it has been restored to full original color.
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on 15 August 2012
THE LILACS IN THE SPRING is a very old fashioned romantic love story. Its atmosphere reminds me of it in the same time Japanese films directed by
Yasujiro Ozu. Errol Flynn's part woukd be Ryu Chishu. Anna Neagle acted like Setsuko Hara. As for the world of those films, Herbert Wilcox and Ozu
created the same good old days romance basically. Although we never go back to their world again. it is still attractive for us.
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on 12 June 2011
I saw this movie in the cinema many years ago, it's pretty to look at, Errol Flynne is past his prime but tries hard even dancing a little, Anna Neagle was a tropper as always, not a great actress dancer or singer but giving it all she could,
still always love seeing her old movies, this movie is for those who want a nostalgic look again into the charm of those older days of cinema.
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on 7 June 2014
good to catch up on 50 odd years of film-making
lovely music, good old romance and make-
Maybe will watch again in another ten years!
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on 9 May 2009
Fans of Errol should see this but beware there is a lot of Dame Anna Neagle dancing - and she's not too graceful in my opinion. But Errol is wonderful - though you have to wait a while for himn Best of all are the in jokes about Burma which appear near the end - "If you see Errol Flynn in Burma send him my love" says Kathleen Harrison (Mrs Thursday as some while recall). Some call the film "silly froth" - well yes it is - but still brought a tear to my eye. There is a certain 'knowingness' about Errol's performance - a sadness inherent - which is moving. Interesting film if a bit mad and very ENGLISH - "I say, jolly good".
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on 3 June 2009
This film is highly recommended, a truly, good 'old fashioned' story line, but only if you enjoy nostalgia.
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on 2 February 2015
Absolutely terrible film. Confusing plot...horrible acting. Merely an excuse for extremely lame and irritating songs and lousy dancing.
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on 14 May 2014
With Anna Neagel and Errol Flyne and directed by Herbert Wicox what a combination yo make this a delightful movie
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