Monday, August 13, 2007

The Whisperers

A dotty old lady imagines that all sorts of crimes are taking place in her neighbourhood and dutifully reports them at her local police station, where the officers smilingly humour her. Then she comes into some money - the proceeds of a robbery.

But it's not The Ladykillers. It's the film I taped from this week's Social Realism section in the BBC British film season.

The Whisperers is dominated by the central performance of Edith Evans, at once riveting and painful to watch. It is a revelation to those of us who remember her only as Lady Bracknell and as a game old girl on Parkinson. To those who do not remember her at all it is an education.

Taken as a whole, the film is another condemnation of those who dismiss British films as irredeemably cosy. It is one of the bleakest I have ever seen. Bryan Forbes did direct some extraordinary films in this era. You can almost forgive the mandatory appearance by Nanette Newman in every one of them.

Besides Edith Evans there is a late performance by Eric Portman. He even shares the screen in one scene with Leonard Rossiter - two of my very favourite actors together (see the picture in this posting). Rossiter steals any scene he appear in, and how ever good he is there is always a note of Rigsby in there somewhere too. Other good minor performances here come from Avis Bunnage, Gerald Sim and Robin Bailey.

Finally, to continue my new theme of the connections between realist films of the 1960s and On the Buses, you should note the appearance as a bad lot of Michael Robbins, who went on to play the long-suffering Arthur - the husband of Olive.

1 comment:

Will said...

Michael Robbins was also in the Doctor Who serial "The Visitation". He may or may not have had something to drink first...