The History of Mr. Polly

Who loses his job for reading of books and ruins his life for lack of astuteness on much the same account, and chucks it all in for a providential new start that makes him a veritable flower of the chivalry he’s always read of, amongst other things.

Pelissier, a director of genius, escorts his hero through the early stages of this history with the raremost care and attention, the strong novelistic touches convey brisk worlds of understanding on the most plump level of downright meaning, the final defense of the Potwell Inn is to some degree a different matter, for here Mr. Polly (whose name is Alfred) is mainly on his own, fate comes to his rescue, the river twice receives his adversary, the last time for good and all.


The Rocking Horse Winner

Between Ben Hecht in Actors and Sin, and Henry Koster in Dear Brigitte, the analysis is complete, or nearly (Cacoyannis has Helen’s extravagance in The Trojan Women).

David Lean’s influence is perceptible.

As Billy Wilder would say, it’s D.H. Lawrence’s story.

Critics, with the notable exceptions of Time Out Film Guide’s fatuous amateur psychologist and Leslie Halliwell (“fatally overextended... becomes bathetic”), were rather struck, if no more.


Personal Affair

Of a coed and her Latin master, strong echoes of Cocteau’s Les Parents terribles and a foretaste of Losey’s Secret Ceremony (with Pamela Brown) inform this gratefully, and there is Glenville’s Term of Trial on another basis.

A police search combing the river and his garments, sacking and public contempt at the height of her disappearance, the American wife distraught at her own frankness, all that rubbish, gets up to a pitch of wild, sick despair in her parents, girls vanish every day in London, this is Rudford.

“Pretty well talked into the ground”, said Bosley Crowther of the New York Times.

Halliwell’s Film Guide pronounces it “preposterous”.


Meet Mr. Lucifer

A pantomime devil goes to Hell and meets “the real McCoy”, who enlists his aid against the telly.

It badgers the life and soul out of folks as a result, a social entertainment with costly, distracting and ludicrously self-absorbed obligations, gradually people put it by and take up Mr. Lucifer’s next project, 3-D movies.

The significance does not seem to have been evident to many critics at the time, or since, for that matter. “Laboured and limp”, says George Perry in Forever Ealing, which comes to bury the studio, not to praise it.