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Seventy years later, more interesting than entertaining.
on 27 October 2013
I have seen the glowing reviews of this film and confess to being a tad surprised. This film is a product of its times but seventy years later it has not stood the test of time well: the direction is pedestrian and the tension, for a ghost story, is pretty well non-existent. To mark it as a five star Ealing Studios film, which ranks it alongside absolute classics such as 'Kind Hearts and Coronets' and 'The Lavender Hill Mob' is generous in the extreme and I wouldn't want anyone to buy this film thinking that it was that good.
The story concerns a disparate group of people, each with problems, brought together in an Inn that was destroyed a year before. Their experiences help each of them to heal their lives and tackle the remainder of the war with renewed heart. The real life father and daughter team of Mervyn and Glynis Johns works very well. Mervyn Johns is a class act (brilliant in 'Scrooge')and manages to imbue his part with some sense of mystery. Sally Ann Field plays a schoolgirl but seems very much forced into a style dictated by Basil Dearden, who directed.
There is some inevitable propaganda near the end of the film, which is interesting as a commentary on the war effort: we know how the war was to end - when this film was made, they didn't.
The black and white print on the DVD is very good: the sound is in mono and clear. It is a 'bare bones' release which means that the DVD comes without supporting material or bonus content.
So how to mark this? It is certainly not a five star film: not by comparison with its stable-mates. In its day I think it would have merited four stars but now I think three is fair. It's worth watching but I predict you will sit through it once but not again.
Seventy years later, I found this film is more interesting than entertaining. It is a product of its time and that is how I think it should be viewed.