21 Days

Last updated

21 Days
21 days poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Basil Dean
Written by Graham Greene
Basil Dean
Based on The First and the Last (short story & play)
by John Galsworthy (1920)
Produced by Alexander Korda
Starring Vivien Leigh
Laurence Olivier
Leslie Banks
Cinematography Jan Stallich
Edited by Charles Crichton
William Hornbeck
Music by Muir Mathieson
John Greenwood
Production
company
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
7 January 1940 (1940-01-07)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

21 Days (also known as 21 Days Together, The First and the Last and Three Weeks Together) is a 1940 British drama film based on the short 1919 play The First and the Last by John Galsworthy. It was directed by Basil Dean and stars Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier and Leslie Banks. The film was renamed 21 Days Together for the American market. [1]

Contents

Plot

Larry Darrant, the black sheep of his family, returns home to London from an unsuccessful business venture in Kenya and embarks on an affair with a married woman, Wanda. When Wanda's long-absent husband, Henry, who is Russian, shows up, he tries to extort money from the lovers, and pulls a knife on Larry when he refuses to pay. In the ensuing fight Henry is accidentally killed when he strikes his head on the fire fender.

Larry places Henry's body in a quiet brick archway at Glove Lane. He then visits his brother Keith, a successful barrister hoping to soon become a judge, for advice. Keith tells Larry to leave the country for a while to avoid capture. In part Keith's motivation is to avoid the damage Larry's arrest would do to his own career.

However, Larry refuses to leave, and returns to the alley where he had left the body. There he encounters John Evan, a former minister turned tramp, who picks up bloody gloves that Larry has dropped in the street. When Evan is found with the gloves, he is arrested for Wallen's murder, and the police believe they have sufficient evidence for a conviction. Evan's sense of disgrace for robbing the dead body of a ring is such that he insists on his guilt.

When Larry learns of Evan's arrest, he considers himself a temporarily free man and decides to marry Wanda. Larry and Wanda try to compress 30 years of idyllic life into the course of just 21 days, as Larry plans to turn himself in to the police before Evan's trial begins. On the day when Evan is sentenced to hang, Keith begs his brother to remain silent and let the condemned man die. Larry, set on doing the right thing, refuses and leaves for the police station. He is stopped on the steps of the station by Wanda, chasing after him, who has learned that Evan died from a heart attack on his way to jail.

Cast

Production

Producer Alexander Korda intended 21 Days to be a star vehicle for Vivien Leigh, but his constant interference caused great problems on the set. He rearranged shooting schedules and even added a sequence, and director Basil Dean reputedly never saw a rough cut or the finished product. The title change to 21 Days was attributed to Korda. [2] Principal photography took place in 1937 at Denham Film Studios. Korda's younger brother Vincent Korda was the film's art director on and was responsible for the set design. [3]

Following Vivien Leigh's star turn with her performance as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), Korda shelved 21 Days for two years before releasing it to Columbia Pictures. [4]

Reception

In a review for The New York Times , critic Bosley Crowther wrote: "True, it is no deathless drama—is little more than a cultivated penny-thriller, in fact—and Miss Leigh, as the party of the second part, is required to devote her charm and talents to nothing more constructive than making the apparently inevitable parting from poor Mr. Olivier seem exceedingly painful, indeed. But it is a highly charged 'meller,' rigid throughout with suspense and nicely laced with much tender emotion." [5]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vivien Leigh</span> British actress (1913–1967)

Vivien Leigh, styled as Lady Olivier after 1947, was a British actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress twice, for her definitive performances as Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Blanche DuBois in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), a role she had also played on stage in London's West End in 1949. She also won a Tony Award for her work in the Broadway musical version of Tovarich (1963). Although her career had periods of inactivity, in 1999 the American Film Institute ranked Leigh as the 16th greatest female movie star of classic Hollywood cinema.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laurence Olivier</span> English actor and director (1907–1989)

Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, was an English actor and director who, along with his contemporaries Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, was one of a trio of male actors who dominated the British stage of the mid-20th century. He also worked in films throughout his career, playing more than fifty cinema roles. Late in his career, he had considerable success in television roles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alexander Korda</span> Hungarian-British film producer and director (1893–1956)

Sir Alexander Korda was a Hungarian-British film director, producer and screenwriter, who founded his own film production studios and film distribution company.

<i>Ship of Fools</i> (film) 1965 film by Stanley Kramer

Ship of Fools is a 1965 American drama film directed by Stanley Kramer, set on board an ocean liner bound to Germany from Mexico in 1933. It stars a prominent ensemble cast of 11 stars — Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, Jose Ferrer, Lee Marvin, Oskar Werner, Elizabeth Ashley, George Segal, Jose Greco, Michael Dunn, Charles Korvin and Heinz Ruehmann. It also marked Christiane Schmidtmer's first U.S. production.

<i>The Captains Paradise</i> 1953 film by Anthony Kimmins

The Captain's Paradise is a 1953 British comedy film produced and directed by Anthony Kimmins, and starring Alec Guinness, Yvonne De Carlo and Celia Johnson. Guinness plays the captain of a passenger ship that travels regularly between Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco. De Carlo plays his Moroccan wife and Johnson plays his British wife. The film begins at just before the end of the story, which is then told in a series of flashbacks.

<i>Rudyard Kiplings Jungle Book</i> 1942 film by Zoltan Korda

Jungle Book is a 1942 independent Technicolor action-adventure film by the Korda brothers, loosely adapted from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1894). The story centers on Mowgli, a feral young man who is kidnapped by villagers who are cruel to the jungle animals as they attempt to steal a dead king's cursed treasure. The film was directed by Zoltán Korda and produced by his brother Alexander, with the art direction done by their younger brother Vincent. The screenplay was written by Laurence Stallings. The film stars Sabu as Mowgli.

<i>Waterloo Bridge</i> (1940 film) 1940 film by Mervyn LeRoy

Waterloo Bridge is a 1940 remake of the 1931 American drama film also called Waterloo Bridge, adapted from the 1930 play Waterloo Bridge. In an extended flashback narration, it recounts the story of a dancer and an army captain who meet by chance on Waterloo Bridge. The film was made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Mervyn LeRoy and produced by Sidney Franklin and Mervyn LeRoy. The screenplay is by S. N. Behrman, Hans Rameau and George Froeschel, based on the Broadway drama by Robert E. Sherwood. The music is by Herbert Stothart and cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg.

<i>The Entertainer</i> (film) 1960 British film

The Entertainer is a 1960 British kitchen sink drama film directed by Tony Richardson, produced by Harry Saltzman and adapted by John Osborne and Nigel Kneale from Osborne’s stage play of the same name. The film stars Laurence Olivier as Archie Rice, a failing third-rate music-hall stage performer who tries to keep his career going even as the music-hall tradition fades into history and his personal life falls apart. It was filmed on location in the Lancashire seaside town of Morecambe. Olivier was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

<i>The Thief of Bagdad</i> (1940 film) 1940 British film

The Thief of Bagdad is a 1940 British Technicolor historical fantasy film, produced by Alexander Korda and directed by Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger and Tim Whelan, with additional contributions by William Cameron Menzies and Korda brothers Vincent and Zoltán. The film stars teen actor Sabu, Conrad Veidt, John Justin, and June Duprez. It was released in the US and the UK by United Artists.

<i>Fire Over England</i> 1937 British film by William K. Howard

Fire Over England is a 1937 London Film Productions film drama, notable for providing the first pairing of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. It was directed by William K. Howard and written by Clemence Dane from the 1936 novel Fire Over England by AEW Mason. Leigh's performance in the film helped to convince David O. Selznick to cast her as Scarlett O'Hara in his 1939 production of Gone with the Wind. The film is a historical drama set during the reign of Elizabeth I focusing on England's victory over the Spanish Armada.

<i>A Yank at Oxford</i> 1938 film by Jack Conway

A Yank at Oxford (1938) is a comedy-drama film directed by Jack Conway and starring Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan, Vivien Leigh and Edmund Gwenn. The screenplay was written by John Monk Saunders and Leon Gordon. The film was produced by MGM-British at Denham Studios.

<i>That Hamilton Woman</i> 1941 film by Alexander Korda

That Hamilton Woman, also known as Lady Hamilton, is a 1941 black-and-white historical film drama, produced and directed by Alexander Korda for his British company during his exile in the United States. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, the film tells the story of the rise and fall of Emma Hamilton, dance-hall girl and courtesan, who married Sir William Hamilton, British ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples. She later became mistress to Admiral Horatio Nelson.

<i>Anna Karenina</i> (1948 film) 1948 film by Julien Duvivier

Anna Karenina is a 1948 British film based on the 1877 novel of the same title by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy.

<i>Cry, the Beloved Country</i> (1951 film) 1951 film

Cry, the Beloved Country is a 1951 British drama film directed by Zoltán Korda and starring Sidney Poitier, Charles Carson and Canada Lee, in his last film role. The film is based on the novel of the same name written by Alan Paton.

<i>The Young Mr. Pitt</i> 1942 British film

The Young Mr. Pitt is a 1942 British biographical film of the life of William Pitt the Younger and in particular his struggle against revolutionary France and Napoleon. It was directed by Carol Reed and stars Robert Donat, Robert Morley, Phyllis Calvert and John Mills. Made in black-and-white, it was produced by Edward Black and Maurice Ostrer for the British subsidiary of 20th Century Fox.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Esme Percy</span> English actor

Saville Esmé Percy was an English actor who specialized in the plays of G.B. Shaw and appeared in 40 films between 1930 and 1956. He was born in London and died in Brighton.

<i>St. Martins Lane</i> (film) 1938 British film

Sidewalks of London, also known as St Martin's Lane, London After Dark, and Partners of the Night, is a 1938 British black-and-white comedy drama starring Charles Laughton as a busker or street entertainer who teams up with a talented pickpocket, played by Vivien Leigh. The film co-stars Rex Harrison and Tyrone Guthrie in a rare acting appearance. It also features Ronald Shiner as the barman (uncredited). It was produced by Mayflower Pictures Corporation.

<i>Gambling House</i> (film) 1951 film by Ted Tetzlaff

Gambling House is a 1951 American film noir crime film directed by Ted Tetzlaff and starring Victor Mature, Terry Moore and William Bendix.

A film of Macbeth with Laurence Olivier as director and in the lead role was a project which Olivier was ultimately unable to gain financing.

<i>The Stranger</i> (1924 film) 1924 film by Joseph Henabery

The Stranger is a 1924 American silent drama film directed by Joseph Henabery and starring Betty Compson and Richard Dix. It is based on a 1918 novel, The First and the Last, by John Galsworthy. It was produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed through Paramount Pictures.

References

Notes

  1. "21 Days Together".
  2. "Notes: '21 Days Together'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 2 February 2015.
  3. "Original print information: '21 Days Together'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 2 February 2015.
  4. Walker 1987, pp. 48, 51.
  5. Crowther, Bosley. "The Screen." The New York Times, May 23, 1940.

Bibliography