Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Freda Jackson in Olivier's Henry V

My new favourite actress Freda Jackson didn't just play termagants like Mrs Joe (Great Expectations) or Mrs Voray (No Room at the Inn). Here she is as Mistress Quickly in Laurence Olivier's Henry V from 1944.

This is the scene following the death of Falstaff. With the lines "he's in Arthur's bosom, if ever man went to Arthur's bosom" and "a' babbled of green fields" we are close to the mystic Englishness of another wartime Freda Jackson film, Powell and Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale.

The other actors in the scene are Robert Newton as Pistol and two who were to be dead within months of shooting it: Frederick Cooper (with the nose) as Nym and Roy Emerton as Bardolph. The boy is unmistakably a young George Cole.

I saw this film at the cinema when I was only eight or nine. I remember it was judged that it would be too grown up for my sisters' friend's younger brother but not for me, which pleased me no end. What I made of it I can't recall, though I do remember the battle scenes.

Henry V was not a play I studied at school, so it remained a private enthusiasm.

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