Thursday, October 1, 2020

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR OCTOBER ON TCM


The Archers 1943 film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is a leisurely 2 hours and 43 minutes and you won't want to miss a moment. It is a movie that examines life and history, its long and short views. It examines aging and love in ways you may have thought but never expressed. Perhaps in ways that will be new to you yet will impact your thinking or your feelings.

James MacKechnie, Roger Livesey

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger set the opening of our film in the contemporary time of 1943. General Clive Wynne-Candy is in charge of the Home Guard and "war begins at midnight." The young officers and men have been told to make the war games like the real thing and they do with a sneak early attack, making the older officers their prisoners. It is a battle between the new and the old with indignant insults being hurled by both sides. Roger Livesey as Clive speaks out, How do you know what sort of fellow I was when I was a young as you 40 years ago?"

Roger Livesey

The movie takes us back to that time 40 years ago. It is 1902 and Clive Candy has been awarded the Victoria Cross after serving time as a POW during the Boer War. Fate, in the form of a letter from a young woman named Edith Hunter, finds him traveling to Berlin in order to foster some sort of diplomatic understanding with the Germans regarding the British actions in South Africa.

Anton Walbrook as Theo and Deborah Kerr as Edith

Clive's visit is not sanctioned by any Embassy, yet he is impelled to go forth. Clive will cause a diplomatic incident, fight a duel and meet people who will become dearer to him than any others, Edith Hunter played by Deborah Kerr and Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff played by Anton Walbrook.

Deborah Kerr as Barbara

Forward 20 years and Clive Candy is now involved in the war to end all wars. When the Allies win it reinforces his idea that right overcame might in the conflict and always shall. Here he meets nurse Barbara Wynne played by Deborah Kerr and marries her.

Roger Livesey, Anton Walbrook

He renews his acquaintance with Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff but the shadow of the recent conflict hangs over their friendship. They are from opposite sides of the conflict and see both the war and the peace from differing perspectives.

Anton Walbrook, Roger Livesey

World War 2 brings the widowed Clive and Theo together again. Nazism has blighted the world and the years of experience of the two old men are ignored by that world. The wars they have seen and the lives they have lived have led to different attitudes but both can learn and can share.

Deborah Kerr as "Johnny"

Eventually, as a Home Guard officer, General Wynne-Candy becomes a public relations boon until he isn't. The "old dear" has the affection and loyalty of his young driver Angela "Johnny" Cannon played by Deborah Kerr. He chose her from among 700 applicants. Can you wonder why? Theo does his supportive part as best he can, however, his status as an alien (much like his creator Emeric Pressburger) makes his position that of the outsider.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is one of the most sumptuous and glorious pictures your eyes have ever beheld thanks to the production design of Alfred Junge and the Technicolor cinematography of Georges Perinal. Costume design was by Matilda Etches, Charles R. Beard was the period adviser, and Douglas Brownrigg the military adviser. There is a sense that if the world were Technicolor, we have stepped into those multiple eras of Clive Candy's life.
Cartoonist David Low's satirical reactionary character Colonel Blimp is the inspiration for the physicality of the character portrayed in this movie. The personality and the history come from a line edited out of One of Our Aircraft is Missing, 1942: "You don't know what it's like to be old." Editor David Lean suggested that line was worth its own movie.

I have not written too much detail as to the plots in the story as The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is a movie to be experienced, whether you are seeing it for the first time or the tenth. The hope here is that your appetite is whetted for the classic. It's moving script, presentation and exemplary performances by our three leads will live with you.


TCM is screening The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp in primetime on Thursday, October 15th as part of their Spotlight: Celebrating 30 Years of The Film Foundation. There is much to enjoy in the worthy lineup for this October spotlight.


Of note:

Ursula Jeans (1906-1973) is charming as Frau von Kalteneck. Ursula and Roger Livesey (1906-1976) were married from 1937 until her death in 1973. They appeared together often on stage, but The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is only one of two movie collaborations.












32 comments:

  1. I’ve rediscovered the work of P&P this year, so I’m sure I’d like this movie. Livesey was good in LIFE AND DEATH, and it looks like he does some serious aging in this one. Kerr plays three different characters?

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    1. The cast of outstanding, but Deborah as three characters is really showcased. This was a couple of years before I See a Dark Stranger, and Vacation from Marriage in between. No wonder Hollywood wanted her.

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  2. STELLA STEVENS is 82 today! I first knew her from the show FLAMINGO ROAD. Stella won the GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD in 1960 for MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER(female). PEYTON PLACE alert-Stella was in MURDER IN PEYTON PLACE, a 1977 TV-Movie. She played STELLA CHERNAK, the part that LEE GRANT had played on the show. So Stella played Stella! Sadly, MISS STEVENS now resides in a long-term ALZEHEIMER'S care facility. As you know she is the mother of ANDREW STEVENS.

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    1. I recently learned of the tragedy for Stella Stevens. It must be difficult for her family. I adore her in The Courtship of Eddie's Father, and The Nutty Professor. She had great comedy chops and an innate sweetness.

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  3. I want to correct an error. I meant to type ALZHEIMER'S. Andrew Stevens was nominated for a GOLDEN GLOBE for DEBUT IN A MOVIE(male). It was for THE BOYS IN COMPANY C. He lost out to BRAD DAVIS for MIDNIGHT EXPRESS. This was in 1979.

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  4. What a beautiful review of this fine film - I enjoyed it so much and felt a real sense of your love for this movie- thanks so much!

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    1. Thank you for those kind words. The movie is special to me and it took quite a while to reach the point where I hoped to do it justice.

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  5. The PEANUTS comic strip came out Oct. 2, 1950-70 years ago today! I like CHARLIE BROWN(the underdog) and also LINUS that has his security blanket. I like a lot of the others too. I remember MARCIE calling PEPPERMINT PATTY "sir". Also Patty thought SNOOPY was a kid!

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    1. All the women in my family are "Lucy", and proud of it.

      Snoopy was smarter than any kid. I love Schulz creation. I find Peanuts very comforting. We'll celebrate its anniversary today.

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  6. This is such an interesting and unique movie that, as you wrote, needs to be experienced. Anton Walbrook as Theo was a highlight to me, as well as the comparison between the three wars Candy fights.
    Thanks for the kind comment!
    Congratulations on your CMBA Award!
    Kisses!

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    1. Anton Walbrook is beautiful as Theo, isn't he?

      I am so pleased that your wonderful Luso series was awarded a CMBA. I am proud that the organization brought us together.

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  7. I want to mention some men named ROGER. There is ROGER MOORE and ROGER SMITH. Also HOWARTH, EWING and DAVIS. ROGER C. CARMEL and ROGER MILLER. ROGER TORREY who was on THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. He did 3 eps as MATTHEW TEMPLETON and then 9 eps as MARK TEMPLETON-the twin of Matthew. He was ELLY MAY'S new beau in a "frogman" story.

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    1. My mom had her picture taken with Roger Moore at a film festival years ago. He was very gracious.

      I've been watching episodes of 77 Sunset Strip on YouTube. There aren't very many, but it is fun to see Roger Smith and his musical performances as well.

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  8. When I see the name "ROGER" sometimes I am reminded of ROGER THORPE on GUIDING LIGHT. As played by MICHAEL ZASLOW, Roger was one of the all-time great villains of soaps. I mean great as in memorable and Michael did a great job! He also played DAVID RENALDI on ONE LIFE TO LIVE. David was paired up with JENNY WOLEK played by BRYNN THAYER. I know her best from MATLOCK where she played his daughter LEANN who, like her dad, was a lawyer. Matlock was on 9 seasons. Brynn was on the show for two seasons-the seventh and eighth seasons. MISS THAYER turned 71 yesterday(Sunday).

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    1. My husband never saw Guiding Light before he met me, but was aware of Michael Zaslow as Roger Thorpe. The fame of that actor and character transcended the program.

      I remember Brynn well from One Life to Live, and the wonderful storylines with David. I haven't seen any of Matlock but it is running locally on a nostalgia programming portion of their day so perhaps I will give it a look.

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  9. I haven't seen these but ROGER LIVESEY was in two movies that starred KIM NOVAK. OF HUMAN BONDAGE came out in 1964 and THE AMOROUS ADVENTURES OF MOLL FLANDERS came out the next year. I am a fan of KIM NOVAK. I really like her in PICNIC. She was also good in STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET with KIRK DOUGLAS and BARBARA RUSH. What movies do you like Kim in best? Did you see those two with Roger Livesey?

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    1. I don't believe I have seen any of the versions of Of Human Bondage. I saw "Moll Flanders" years ago but the memory is vague.

      Faves from Kim Novak are Strangers When We Meet, Bell Book and Candle, Picnic, The Eddy Duchin Story, and Boys' Night Out. I am really impessed with her performance in Vertigo and get a kick out of The Mirror Crack'd.

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  10. JUDY LANDERS is 62 today! She is the younger sister of AUDREY LANDERS. JUDY is the mother of two daughters and Audrey is the mother of twin boys. You may recall Judy from her MURDER, SHE WROTE ep with THOM BRAY, CHARLES SIEBERT and BARRY WILLIAMS. It was titled THE NIGHT OF THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN. Judy played a waitress named BOBBIE. By the way, BARRY WILLIAMS turned 66 on Sept. 30! I know you didn't watch THE BRADY BUNCH but I recall that you mentioned(on somebody else's blog) that you saw Barry in person at some show.

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    1. I saw Barry in City of Angels. It was a grand musical and he was excellent.

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  11. Another MURDER, SHE WROTE guest star has a birthday today. Like Judy, she is also a blonde. CHRISTOPHER NORRIS is 67! She guest starred on MATLOCK and DIAGNOSIS MURDER. She did two eps of M.S.W. and four eps of HOTEL. I really liked her on TRAPPER JOHN, MD as GLORIA. (CHARLES SIEBERT was on the show as DR. RIVERSIDE.) I was always glad when Christopher showed up in guest star roles. I remember that you knew her work from a soap opera way back-before SANTA BARBARA that she was also on.

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    1. Yes, that was The Edge of Night where I became a Christopher Norris fan.

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  12. Dear Patti,

    This is a great article! I can tell that you really enjoy this film. It certainly sounds like an excellent movie. At first, I wondered why I didn't recognize the names or faces of any of the actors. When I saw Deborah Kerr, I realized why. It's a British film! When I scrolled down, I also saw a picture of Anton Wallbrook, whom I know from "The Red Shoes." This sounds like a really interesting movie. I'll have to watch it some time!

    By the way, PEPS is hosting three blogathons in the remainder of 2020, The 4th Annual Great Blogathon in October (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/09/22/announcing-the-4th-annual-great-breening-blogathon/), The Third Annual Claude Rains Blogathon in November (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/10/01/an-old-friend-is-never-an-added-guest-please-join-us-for-the-third-annual-claude-rains-blogathon/), and The 2nd Happy Holidays Blogathon
    (https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/10/01/announcing-the-2nd-happy-holidays-blogathon/). If you could join one or more of these blogathons, that would be wonderful. We could really use your talent!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

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    1. Thanks for reading this article and for letting me know about the upcoming blogathons. I'll check them out in more detail later today.

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  13. Wonderful review of a delightful P&P film! Indeed, it is one of my favorites of theirs, along with Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, and I Know Where I'm Going. Deborah Kerr is one of my favorite actresses and she has a field day in all her roles. But this is also a showcase for Roger Livesey, who played important supporting roles in other movies by The Archers. And, of course, you're right about the splendid set design, costumes, and photography. It's not shown as often as other Archers films, but it deserves to be.

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    1. I am certain that those coming to "Blimp" for the first time this month on TCM will become as enamored with with this classic as the both of us.

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  14. EDWARD ANDREWS was born on this day(Oct. 9) in 1914. His passing was in Mar. 1985 at the age of 70. According to imdb he was in TEA AND SYMPATHY which starred DEBORAH KERR. He played the dad of the young man played by JOHN KERR. Edward was in THE MILLION DOLLAR DUCK with DEAN JONES. Dean had a part in Tea and Sympathy also. I have never seen this movie. If you have, what is your opinion? Did Dean play a classmate of John Kerr's character?

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    1. Deborah Kerr and John Kerr played the roles on Broadway prior to the film. Edward Andrews' role was played by John McGovern. Leif Erickson also was in the play and the movie. It is a sensitive drama handled well by director Vincente Minnelli. The play was staged by Elia Kazan.

      Your think is correct, Dean Jones did play a student.

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  15. I always remember EDWARD ANDREWS from his ep of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW(a color episode). He played a professor, a visiting lecturer. He and AUNT BEE(FRANCES BAVIER) start dating. Aunt Bee reminds him of his late wife. What are some of your favorite guest-star parts that Edward did?

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    1. I actually have a favourite TV guest appearance by Edward Andrews. It is a Thriller Episode called A Good Imagination. Patricia Barry co-stars as his cheating wife. Andrews' imagination gets carried away.

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  16. Blimp is one of my favorite films, and I'm glad you did such a wonderful write up. I love that Debroah Kerr is able to play three different women and do such a good job at making them both the same and very different. But the star performance is by Livesey, who's a goes from callow young officer, to middle age, to Grand Ol' Man. And I love the way music is integrated into the movie. We even get some raucous Jazz when "Johnny" and his modern chaps are onscreen. Perhaps my two favorite scenes are the Berlin Café and the ending where we hear the Coldstream Guards tune in the background as the film ends.

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    1. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I really appreciate it.

      The Berlin Cafe scene is remarkable. With every viewing I am more and more impressed. That ending - perfection.

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