Poll

What's your favorite film by Anthony Asquith?

A Cottage on Dartmoor
1 (4.5%)
Pygmalion
2 (9.1%)
Freedom Radio
0 (0%)
Cottage to Let
0 (0%)
We Dive at Dawn
0 (0%)
The Demi-Paradise
0 (0%)
Fanny by Gaslight
0 (0%)
The Way to the Stars
2 (9.1%)
The Winslow Boy
0 (0%)
The Woman in Question
0 (0%)
The Browning Version
3 (13.6%)
The Importance of Being Earnest
3 (13.6%)
Carrington V.C.
0 (0%)
The Doctor's Dilemma
0 (0%)
Libel
1 (4.5%)
The Millionairess
0 (0%)
The V.I.P.s
0 (0%)
The Yellow Rolls-Royce
0 (0%)
other (specify)
0 (0%)
haven't seen any
10 (45.5%)
don't like any
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 21

Author Topic: Asquith, Anthony  (Read 3276 times)

Jared

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Re: Director's Best: Anthony Asquith
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2013, 11:58:17 AM »
1. The Browning Version 3/5
2. Pygamillion 3/5
3. The Importance of Being Earnest 3/5

1SO

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Asquith, Anthony
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2014, 06:46:41 PM »
1. Libel
2. The Woman in Question
3. A Cottage in Dartmoor
4. Pygmalion

5. The Way to the Stars
6. The Importance of Being Earnest
7. The Browning Version

8. The V.I.P.s
« Last Edit: June 24, 2019, 11:53:23 PM by 1SO »

1SO

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Re: Director's Best: Anthony Asquith
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2014, 07:06:14 PM »
Frustrating that I can't get into Anthony Asquith's work, especially when Martin finds him to be so reliable. For me, he defines the stiff upper lip Brit, as if Mr. Stevens from The Remains of the Day was guiding everything.

The Importance of Being Earnest (* *) plays like one of those films that defined upper crust British stereotypes. I hear the Oscar Wilde wit, but everyone is too scared to go for the laugh. Well, except for Edith Evans who is playing a Maggie Smith type, though completely out of control. This doesn't set the bar for high-minded haughtiness, it's like a Zucker Brothers parody of it. I'd rather have just spent the time reading Oscar Wilde quotes.

The Woman in Question (* * *) uses what may be the plot device most likely to entertain me, a Rashomon style murder investigation. I love watching actors adjust how they play their characters in similar scenes to create a different effect. Then all of these styles are seen as aspects of one character. I think the material forces Asquith to be less stagy. (This is his best shot film, and it's not even close. The use of shadows that streak over certain characters is really cool.) The investigation loses steam with one particular eyewitness, and in the end the A-B-C trajectory of the mystery is surprisingly transparent. It's an easy one to figure out because of this, and again I can't NOT blame Asquith for it.

MartinTeller

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Re: Director's Best: Anthony Asquith
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2014, 11:46:20 PM »

Cottage to Let - The rural Scottish estate of John Barrington (Leslie Banks) is bustling these days.  Barrington is an inventor, working on incredibly accurate new bomb sights.  His wife (Jeanne De Casalis) is preparing the estate for an upcoming fundraising bazaar for the war effort.  A cottage on the estate has been set aside as an ad hoc military hospital, and Dr. Truscott (Hay Petrie) has just welcomed his first patient: fighter pilot George Perry (John Mills) has landed in a nearby loch and his shoulder is injured.  Dr. Truscott attends to him with his fetching assistant, the Barringtons' daughter Helen (Carla Lehmann).  Helen and George appear to be striking up a sudden romance, arousing the jealousy of Barrington's bookish assistant Alan Trently (Michael Wilding).  At the same time, Mrs. Barrington has also promised the cottage for housing evacuees, and the first has arrived: London lad Ronald (George Cole), who fancies himself a young Sherlock Holmes.  Complicating matters further is the arrival of Charles Dimble (Alastair Sim), who had made previous arrangements to rent the cottage.  Ronald is moved into the Barrington home, where he immediately voices his suspicions about the butler Evans (Wally Patch).  The cook Mrs. Trimm (Muriel George) quits in a huff over all the commotion and returns to her Glasgow employment agent Mrs. Stokes (Catherine Lacey).  Oh, and by the way... amidst all this mess, someone is leaking Barrington's secrets to the Germans.

My decision to explore the lesser-known works of Anthony Asquith (if he can indeed be said to have any "well-known" works... despite three releases in the much-lauded "Criterion Collection", he's far from a household name, even in cinephile circles) continues to pay off.  This isn't one of his most memorable or captivating or moving films, but it's quite a bit of fun.  Keeping track of who's who can be challenging at first, but the wit manages to keep things lively.  Despite sometimes not having a lot of forward momentum plotwise, the movie moves quite swiftly, and keeps you guessing about which players are keeping secrets, and what those secrets are.  The thrilling climax concludes with what has to be the hammiest death scene I've ever seen, but even that manages to be part of the fun.  It also utilizes funhouse mirrors some 6 years prior to The Lady from Shanghai (to be fair, Welles put them to much more spectacular use).

The cast of characters are all very enjoyable.  Sims and Mills are reliable as ever, playing roles that they feel very comfortable in.  Banks is a hoot as the boyishly eccentric inventor, as is De Casalis as his scatterbrained but dignified wife.  Patch manages to have some fun as well.  George Cole -- who ten years later would be cast as the younger version of Alastair Sims's Scrooge -- practically steals the show.  Ronald is a precocious lad and isn't bashful about his observational powers, but he also gets shown in a vulnerable position that makes him more than just a wisecracking kid.  Wilding and Lehmann come off a bit bland among all these colorful characters, but they still do a fine job.

It is funny how many of these British wartime films are about spies (excuse me, "agents") in our midst.  It makes me wonder if seeing these movies made the citizenry somewhat more paranoid about their neighbors.  But despite clearly having a propagandistic angle to it, the film doesn't ever get too soapboxy.  The twisty plot, verbal humor and winning performances bring the entertainment value to the forefront.  Rating: Very Good (80)

oldkid

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Re: Director's Best: Anthony Asquith
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2014, 09:02:35 AM »
I really enjoyed his version of Pygmallion and The Browning Version was okay.  But I just saw that he did a version of Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma.  I'd love to be able to find that.
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jascook

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Re: Director's Best: Anthony Asquith
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2014, 11:32:35 PM »
Pygmalion: 8/10
Sara: Good-bye, father Isak. Can't you see you're the one I love? Today, tomorrow and forever.
Isak Borg: I'll keep that in mind.

MartinTeller

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Re: Director's Best: Anthony Asquith
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2015, 06:06:44 PM »

Quiet Wedding - When Janet Royd (Margaret Lockwood) accepts Dallas Chaytor's (Derek Farr) proposal, she hopes for a simple, quiet wedding.  But it quickly grows out of her control as everyone makes a tremendous fuss over the event, without any concern for her wishes or feelings.  Exacerbating matters is the flurry of activity in Royd home.  While father Arthur (A.E. Matthews) seems indifferent, mother Mildred (Marjorie Fielding) is a whirlwind.  Janet's brother John (David Tomlinson) arrives with Flower Lisle (Peggy Ashcroft), the eccentric extrovert that he's "practically engaged" to... though she seems more intrigued by their brother Denys (Sydney King).  Sister Marcia (Margaretta Scott) storms in without husband Jim (Michael Shepley), full of petty complaints and proclaiming that marriage is hell.  Aunts Mary (Athene Seyler) and Florence (Jean Cadell) are there, taking up additional space.  And no one even seems aware that Dallas's father (Frank Cellier) is coming.  As the chaos swirls around Janet, her nerves get rattled and she begins to have second thoughts.

One of ten collaborations between screenwriter Terence Rattigan and Anthony Asquith.  It's an amusing -- though never laugh-out-loud funny -- comedy of errors and manners.  The script features plenty of clever banter, taking some subplot detours but never straying far from the central story.  The cast is loaded with endearing or quirky characters, particularly Lockwood, Seyler and Ashcroft.  The movie does sometimes feel a bit old-fashioned, with a little too much hand-wringing over even the thought of sex before marriage, or offending Mildred's delicate sensibilities.  But hey, it's British and it's 1941, you've got to expect some stuffiness.

There is a scene where Dallas is confronted by a policeman and treats him almost like a servant.  I can't tell if this encounter and the ensuing events were meant to mock how clueless the privileged class is, or how backwards and ignorant the non-privileged are.  I'd like to think the former, but given how much the film seems to be on Dallas's side, I fear the latter.  But besides this section, the movie is often charming and has a couple of genuinely sweet moments.  Rating: Good (77)

oldkid

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Re: Director's Best: Anthony Asquith
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2015, 08:06:07 PM »
Pygmailion 3.5/5
The Browning Version 3/5
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

Corndog

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Re: Director's Best: Anthony Asquith
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2016, 01:20:45 PM »
1. Pygmalion (3)
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1SO

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Re: Asquith, Anthony
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2019, 12:00:12 AM »
Updated Rankings

A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929)
★ ★ ★ - Good
Simple story of jealousy and murder is presented in a manner that’s visually striking without being overly artsy. Sharp editing and very few intertitles keep up the intensity. I’m starting to think crime thrillers are Asquith’s secret specialty, better than his dramas and closer to Hitchcock than Carol Reed.


Libel (1959)
★ ★ ★ – Good
Further proof of Asquith’s knack for tightening the screws. Standard courtroom thriller that seems quite predictable pulls out genuine surprise and scenes of off-kilter intensity that would make this appropriate for Shocktober. Olivia de Havilland’s occasional hysterics (and an over-cranked score) stick out among the cool reserve of the cast, who let the script raise the temperature. Playing a lawyer is what Robert Morley was meant to do. A Discovery!


The V.I.P.’s (1963)
★ ★
Star cast stranded at the airport when a fog delays all flights. It's low-hanging fruit to say, like the planes, this film never gets off the ground. Soap opera stories and acting, the opposite of what Taylor and Burton do in Virginia Woolf. Margaret Rutherford won an Oscar as a daffy, tart elderly lady, a largely preposterous character, a type played better decades later by Maggie Smith (who is in this too.)