Saturday, 22 June 2013

JUNE 22, 2013

116 THE HALFWAY HOUSE (1944) Directed by Basil Dearden **

I find Basil Dearden's career quite fascinating. He was born not far from where I sit writing this and over the years he has consistently made interesting and thoughtful British films. Never showy and, maybe for some (not for me) a bit on the dull side but he was a good story-teller. There were, a few clinkers along the way but more credits than debits overall.  THE HALFWAY HOUSE is not one of this best but despite that it is consistently entertaining and must be seen in its historical perspective. A group of people converge on a Welsh inn - all have problems or important decisions to make in their lives. It soon becomes apparent that their is something mysterious about the innkeeper and his pretty daughter and that time has gone back a year. Being from Ealing Studios it is tempting to see the film as a companion to the same studios DEAD OF NIGHT (to which Dearden also contributed) without that film's more sinister aspects.  The original play on which it is based (unlike the film) reportedly makes no mention of the war and therein is the problem. The films, seen today, is very much a propaganda piece with mentions of supposed cowardice, war profiteering and, rather specifically, Irish neutrality and as a result comes across as rather preachy. Having said that it is very watchable and, interestingly, it seems to have been inspired by a real incident that has never been fully explained (see IMDb). It is good to see Mervyn Johns and real life daughter paired together and  to see the cute Sally Ann Howes long before her signature role in CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. Worth a look.

The Halfway House

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