Saturday, September 27, 2008

TV Film of the Week: Lost

Though really I should rename this feature Obscure British TV Film of the Week You Probably Won't Have Seen That May be Better Than You Expect.

A woman leavers a child in pram outside a chemist's shop and goes in. The woman behind the counter is Joan Hickson. You relax, knowing that you are in safe hands. Add to that the fact that the other customer in the shop is a teenaged Barbara Windsor, and you have one of the most appealing aspects of this film.

Because Lost features an extraordinary cast of faces that are familiar from other British films or televison - at least to us now, even if they were not so well known when it was made. As well as Hickson and Windsor, there are Joan Sims, George Woodbridge, Dandy Nicholls, William Lucas, Glyn Houston, Shirley Anne Field, Eleanor Summerfield, Meredith Edwards and Thora Hird.

The star is David Farrar, who was once one of Michael Powell's favourite actors. Think of him galloping his horse over the Long Mynd in Gone to Earth as the wicked squire on his way to ravish Jennifer Jones, or of his manly knees sending the nuns mad with repressed lust in Black Narcissus.

Like other Powell stars - Roger Livsey, Eric Portman - he was more vital than the Johnny Mills types who were favoured by other British directors of the period. Perhaps because of this, Farrar was to give up acting soon after Lost and emigrate to South Africa.

The other notable thing about Lost is that it uses quite mundane London and Home Counties locations, giving you the chance to see the 1950s in colour. The cosy picture of Britiain it presents was probably wishful thinking even when it was made, but there are enough twists in the plot to keep you watching.

Lost is being shown on Monday 29 September at 1.40 p.m. (Channel 4).


HE Elsom said...

A pedant writes:

I think you'll find it is David Farrar's thighs rather than his knees that send Kathleen Byron barmy in Black Narcissus.

Jonathan Calder said...

See also a comment on Lost that has attached itself to another posting.