Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp}

Made and set in 1943, the film begins with this young lieutenant making a preemptive strike in a war games training exercise and taking his command of soldiers to capture the leader of the Home Guard, Major General Clive Wynne-Candy in a Turkish bath.
Candy is most upset and reminds the young soldiers that "War starts at midnight!" but the lieutenant says that he doesn't believe that the Nazis fight by observing the traditional traditions of war. When the lieutenant then insults Candy and his moustache and doesn't believe that he has ever been in a real war, Candy attacks him and says that he's been fighting in wars since before the lieutenant was born and that the lieutenant doesn't know the story of why he has his moustache and why he holds his ideals that war can only be won by clean fighting and "10 miles up the hill both ways in the snow" sort of statements. And that's what the film is about -how Candy got his moustache.
Of course, the film is about more then facial hair. Churchill did hate the film enough to ban it from export to America until 1945 for a reason. It basically, and I do mean basically since the plot is too long and complex to sum up, shows why the older military leaders and the older generation figures in other works (such as Vile Bodies) were critical of the younger generations and the new ways in which wars were being fought and the way in which the world was changing. But unlike other films and books, this one explains why older generations held fast to their views (or didn't) and this why you should watch in, since we do want to understand what it was like to live on the Home Front, don't we?
Powell and Pressburger use three character to explains the story through flashback. Roger Livesey plays Candy.

Anton Walbrook (he was also in The Red Shoes) plays Theo, the "good German officer" and Candy's best friend
And Deborah Kerr plays three different, but equally important characters.


Flashback:

Clive Candy was also once a young lieutenant in the same Turkish bath, only he was the one interrupting the nap time of his elders.
He had also served in the Boer War and had earned a VC -that's the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour available to what are now Commonwealth citizens.
Cut to:

Segment One: 1902 England and Germany
Candy is on leave from the Boer War and goes to Germany, where he ends up fighting a duel with
Theo, who is then a lieutenant in the German Army
Miss Kerr is playing a suffragette and is the cause of the duel, but not for the usual reasons. This is also the part of the film where her character has the best costumes.
Cut to:

Segment Two: 1918-1919 France then back to England
Candy is a General in France and believes that they won by being sportsmanlike
Miss Kerr is now playing Barbara, whom Candy met as a nurse on the Front and marries her. She wears this lovely suit for most of this segment, but there is also a beautiful frock in an afternoon lunch scene which you must see for yourself.
Poor Theo. He's a prisoner of war in England and not very happy about it.
But he's still the best of friends with Candy and does offer the opinion of the losing German side and fears what will become of the world as a result of the Versailles Treaty.
Cut to:

Segment Three: 1939-1943 England
Candy comes out of retirement and takes a desk job as a General, but is pushed out due to his unwavering duty to clean fighting.
Miss Kerr is now Angela "Johnny" Cannon who is chosen out of 700 girls to be Candy's driver. She wears her hair in the same style that Sam does in Foyle's War, which I've just started watching. Does anyone know what this style is called or how to do it?
Poor poor Theo. He's now a refugee in England, but he's still friends with Candy, who vouches for his character and saves him from internment.
Theo suggests to Candy that he should become the leader of the Home Guard, which is where he can do the most good.
I think that the film ends happily for Candy, but you'll have to judge for yourselves.

I couldn't find a trailer or a suitable clip, so instead here's a gratuitous shot of a lovely bird hat:

1 comment:

Kate said...

It looks to me like that hairstyles is a 'victory roll' hairstyle. It's pretty simple to do (although it takes some hand-eye coordination).

Basically, you just roll your hair up by hand and pin in like that, or else you can use curlers to set your hair, or do rag curls, and THEN pin it into place. A victory roll is basically a large, long version of a pin curl.

If you google 'victory roll how to' you get a million hits. There are also some pretty good tutorial videos on you tube. I've been experimenting with rag curls myself but I've been growing my hair out so I'm not used to having a proper style and it sort of looks a bit ridiculous. I think I don't care - I wore my hair in pin curls to a costume part last weekend, by way of practice. I'd love to see your hair in victory rolls, I think it would look great on you!