Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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A great 8 days in Canterbury
By: Steve Crook
On Friday I went off driving around the Kent countryside again. This time I went off to Shottenden first. This was where the Horton's blacksmith & wheelwright's yard was filmed. When we went there in 2000 with John Sweet it was looking a bit run down. The Horton brother's grandson had had to give up the business.
In fact a large part of the old yard, where the wood was stacked up, now has a new bungalow built on it. At least there's a memory of the old yard in the name they gave it - "Old Forge".
Then it was over to Chartham Down to see the place where Bob & Alison talk about missing letters. Alison hopes that the horse will lead her up to the hill where she stayed in her caravan - but instead it leads her down the road to the left by the signposts. Bob stands on the bank to the right (known as "Dead Man's Bank") and waves goodbye to her.
That evening we saw I Know Where I'm Going! then Smith, The Volunteer and The Edge of the World. This was the first public screening of Smith in the UK since it was made in 1939. It was shown to the invited guests in the Houses of Parliament on its launch. Since its rediscovery (thanks Mark), it has been seen in Vienna & Bologna but this was its first screening in the UK.
I took a printout of Mark's story of how he tracked it down and passed that around to a few people.
It's a promotional film for a charity that helped ex-servicemen who have fallen on hard times. But in 1939 it wasn't a good time to be talking about ex-servicemen having problems, they wanted everyone possible to enlist.
The film itself is no masterpiece (we didn't really think it would be or it would have been mentioned somewhere), but it has some points of interest. A reasonable performance as John Smith by Ralph Richardson and Flora Robson is very good as Mrs Smith. I particularly liked the way that the music on the soundtrack stopped as the baliff unplugged the radio. But most of it is taken up with a long speech by Major Lloyd from the charity as the camera shows us around. The examples of ex-servicemen doing wickerwork and other small handicrafts did put me in mind of the way they used to run "special schools" and the useful work they got their patients/inmates/pupils to do.
But it was great to see it at last. And having it followed by The Volunteer also with Ralph Richardson, was a great combination.
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