Wednesday, December 21, 2016

FAVOURITE MOVIES: The Holly and the Ivy (1952)

Wynyard Browne's play The Holly and the Ivy premiered in 1950 at the Duchess Theatre in London. It tells the story of the Gregory family and the Christmas that taught them lessons about life and each other. The play was filmed in 1952 by director George More O'Ferrall, a pioneering BBC drama producer. 

The Holly and Ivy is still a popular play with community theatre groups and has long been a favourite of the Nolan sisters. It used to play yearly on local CBC television but disappeared from their lineup long ago. Thanks to a recent internet find I was able to share it with my daughter for the first time. It was a wonderful experience for both of us.

A fine ensemble of top British actors was cast to play the various members of the Gregory clan. The Rev. Martin Gregory (Ralph Richardson) was widowed the previous spring and this will be the first Christmas without the lady of the house. Daughter Jenny (Celia Johnson) has been caring for her father and dutifully sends on the invitations, as usual, keeping up the tradition.

Invited will be her grand maternal Aunt Lydia (Margaret Halstan) and gruff paternal Aunt Bridget (Maureen Delaney). Both actresses played the roles in the stage production. A cousin by the name of Richard Wyndham (Hugh Williams) is an expected guest. He is also godfather to the sophisticated sister Margaret (Margaret Leighton), a writer on a fashion magazine who makes her base in London. Brother Mick (Denholm Elliott) is in the army, but he'll wrangle leave.

Celia Johnson, Margartet Leighton

Jenny, as I mentioned, is a dutiful woman devoted to her father. However, there is now another man in her life. David Paterson (John Gregson) is in love with Jenny and wants to marry her. He is also an engineer with a dream job waiting for him in South America come the new year. Jenny does not feel she can leave her father. Neither of the aunts is a suitable replacement and Jenny won't consider a housekeeper. The idea that Margaret would give up her life in London to hide away in the country is impossible. Martin thinks it is a compliment when he tells his daughter "What would I do without you?", but it only cements the idea that she can't leave him.

Maureen Delaney, Denholm Elliott, Margaret Halstan

There is telling humour and relatable behavior in The Holly and the Ivy as the family faces up to their inner thoughts and their relationships. The things that tie families together and that impact our choices are brought into the open; an outburst of truth followed by the relief of understanding. Isn't the new year just the time to look at ourselves and each other with clear eyes and open hearts?

For your pleasure and edification here is Laura's Miscellaneous Musings take on the film.

Malcolm Arnold's title music:


  1. This sounds like a wonderful film with a terrific cast (Ralph Richardson and Celia Johnson)of characters. I've been a huge fan of Margaret Leighton in recent years. Thanks for the great recommendation --Cheers Joey from The Last Drive In

    1. There is a lot of truth in The Holly and the Ivy. I believe it is something you will enjoy and remember. Leighton's role is terrific and she, of course, is terrific as well.

  2. Well, you can't go wrong with that cast! It was especially fun to hear that you were able to share it with your daughter for the first time.

    1. We've been having a lot of fun with movies this Christmas. I showed her the 1936 Three Godfathers and tonight she is going to introduce me to Tokyo Godfathers. I'm a happy mom.

      I think The Holly and the Ivy is something you would enjoy and appreciate.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, Rick.

  3. I've made a note to watch this during the 2017 holidays. I know I'll love it. :)

  4. Oh, yes. It is something you will truly love.

  5. what I gained from this is the significance of keeping in contact, creating kinships, sharing and giving "previously" you want some help. People help those that they like, know, and trust. People purchase from those they like, know, and trust.

  6. The Godfather changed various moderately obscure entertainers into Hollywood legends, among them being James Caan, Al Pacino, and Robert Duvall (every one of the three of whom were selected for Best Supporting Actor).



Terence Towles Canote at A Shroud of Thoughts is hosting The 8th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon . The popular blogathon is runn...