So Well Remembered

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mrsl
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So Well Remembered

Post by mrsl »

This, I thought was a good movie buried in this afternoons' less than stellar offerings. Although John Mills was his usual milksop self, Trevor Howard as the drunken doctor, seemingly unaware of his surroundings, put a good amount of pizzazz into the story, but as usual Martha Scott was shining. I've tried to discuss Martha a couple of times, but, except for two or three people, very few seem to be aware of who she is. She, like John Mills normally plays the quiet, mousy lady who everyone and their brother/sister takes advantage of, but in this one, whoa, Nellie, she gets her nails dug in from the start. Did anyone else see this little English gem, or tape it? If so, I would love to hear your comments.

Also, as I said, Trevor Howard must have been sick in the two years between Brief Encounter and this one. I say that because in BE he was quite the dashing bloke, but seemed to have lost quite a bit of weight for this, as well as being very sunken in at the eyes and cheeks, i.e. he didn't look really healthy, but put in a good performance, unless this was the start of his career of rather tarnished looking characters. :wink:

Anne
Anne


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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

Hi Anne,
I've seen So Well Remembered (1947) a few times, and, while I don't agree about John Mills being "a milksop", I think his role here as a well-meaning intellectual trapped in a provincial town and marriage to a frustrated woman (Martha Scott) may be why he comes across this way.

I've begun to appreciate how good an actor Mills was only in the last few years. Like a British Henry Fonda, he underplayed his roles and could play decent men under pressure quite well. I hope that you have a chance to see his work in the underrated British noir Mr. Denning Drives North (1952), the brilliant Tunes of Glory (1960), highly entertaining Swiss Family Robinson (1960) and most of all, Scott of the Antarctic (1947) some time. While he shone in these leading roles, he was brilliant as a supporting player, particularly in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), The Rocking Horse Winner (1950) and The End of the Affair (1956), (in the latter movie he is dazzling as a smarmy private investigative operative).

As you astutely pointed out about one of my favorite actors, Trevor Howard, his physical appearance changed dramatically in a few years around the time of his big international successes, Brief Encounter and The Third Man. Mr. H. was a big talent who, like other "roaring boys" in the English theatrical tradition, liked to party. His appearance was affected, and, sadly, so were some of his performances.

If you like Howard, I hope that someday Outcast of the Islands (1952), (in which he worked with Third Man director Carol Reed again), and The Heart of the Matter (1953) are shown again on TCM or issued on easily accessible dvds. The Heart of the Matter is based on a beautifully written Graham Greene novel of the same name, and it is one of a handful of unforgettable performances that I've never forgotten. One other terrific performance by Howard is in Sons and Lovers (1960), which pops up occasionally on the FMC.

From what I've read, Martha Scott, who could be quite affecting on screen, especially in Cheers for Miss Bishop (1941) and One Foot in Heaven (1941), preferred the stage to the screen, since it allowed her more complex roles. Plus, like the director of "So Well Remembered", American Edward Dmytryk, Scott ran afoul of the gray and black listers during the HUAC "there's a commie under every cabbage leaf in Hollywood" scare, beginning after WWII; making work in English movies very appealing. I believe that she also had small children and chose/needed to be home with them during what might have been a crucial period of her career. In any case, don't you think she excelled in playing tense women without going overboard? That seems to be such a difficult facility for an actress. Usually she avoided being overly shrill, but struck just the right note of honesty and sympathy for the plight of her characters, such as the woman she played here. Or maybe I'm just reading into this movie...;)

One of the other things that I found interesting about So Well Remembered was that it was based on a James Hilton novel. Despite the theme of political responsibility that runs strongly through this story and to some degree, in Lost Horizon and Random Harvest, that element of Hilton's stories was rarely emphasized in American movie adaptations of these novels. I think Hilton may have been trying to be more than a writer who could knock off wonderful escapist page-turners. There often seems to be a point in his tales about the limitations of political action when coping with the overwhelming problems of being human. While this may seem a conservative view on Hilton's part, his characters don't really withdraw from involvement with mankind, but plunge more deeply into their commitment, spiritually and physically.

I've been reading and re-reading several of Hilton's books lately, so I guess that accounts for my rambling musings on this writer. I hope that you'll be understanding--don't mean to go off on a tangent. :roll:
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So Well Remembered.

Post by melwalton »

Hi, Moira.
I read 'So Well Remembered' a good while ago and, of course, have forgotten most of it. I forgot all about the character Howard played even after you mentioned it. I do recall thinking, at the time I saw the movie that it was miscast. Although Both Mills and Scott were very competent they didn't come close to fitting the characters in the book. I think Ralph Richardson fit the lead character perfectly. Or even Nigel Bruce. Martha Scott was too nice ( my picture of her ) to play the scheming wife. I thought, maybe, Gale Sondergaard (That might be extreme, maybe Rosalind Russell but we need a British accent ) Still the book was different than the movie, so maybe I got it wrong.
inre Hilton: I'd like to mention two, not as good as 'Random Harvest' or 'So Well Remembered' but mostly overlooked and certainly, worth reading. 'Catherine, Herself' and 'Ill Wind'. Hilton was a romantic for sure.
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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

Hi Mel,
I haven't found any copies of 'Catherine, Herself' and 'Ill Wind', but I'm currently reading James Hilton's 'Without Armor' and 'And Now Goodbye', having enjoyed 'Random Harvest' and 'Lost Horizon' recently. The guy could spin a yarn seamlessly. I'll try to see if I can swing a copy of those books you recommended. Thanks for the hint!

A contemporary of Hilton's whose work I've just started reading is Eric Knight. Yes, he's the author of the 'Lassie' books, but what a good writer of non-children books he was!

'This Above All' and 'The Happy Land' both deal quite interestingly with the disparities in English society just prior to WWII. While there is an element of social criticism to these books, they are also cracking good reads! (Btw, 'This Above All' was adapted as a beautifully romantic movie directed by Anatole Litvak in 1942 with Tyrone Power & Joan Fontaine, though the novel is far more adult and serious about the economic and social rifts that were present in the world then). I've also snagged a copy of a hard-boiled little number with an American setting by Knight (written under the alias Richard Hallas), called 'You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up'. This one would've made Cornell Woolrich a bit jealous. Sadly, Knight was killed in an air crash in 1943 in Dutch Guyana while serving as a major in the United States Army - Special Services branch.
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Post by kimpunkrock »

So Well Remembered is a great rare film. I taped it onto VHS from TCM years ago and I still can remember Robert's great commentary for this one. It is a good, over looked movie.
"Wars may come and wars may go but art is forever."---Leslie Howard in the 49th Parallel
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