Barnacle Bill (1957 film)

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Barnacle Bill
Barnacle Bill (1957 film).jpg
American poster
Directed by Charles Frend
Produced by Michael Balcon
Written by T. E. B. Clarke
Starring Alec Guinness
Music by John Addison
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Edited by Jack Harris
Production
company
Distributed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Release date
  • 11 December 1957 (1957-12-11)
[1]
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$659,000 [2]
Box office$950,000 [2]

Barnacle Bill (released in the US as All at Sea) is a 1957 Ealing Studios comedy film, starring Alec Guinness. He plays an unsuccessful Royal Navy officer, and six of his maritime ancestors. This was the final Ealing comedy as well as the last film Guinness made for Ealing Studios, although some sources list Davy (film) as the final Ealing comedy. By coincidence, his first Ealing success was Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), in which he also played multiple roles. [3] The film was written by the screenwriter of Passport to Pimlico . [4]

Ealing Studios

Ealing Studios is a television and film production company and facilities provider at Ealing Green in west London. Will Barker bought the White Lodge on Ealing Green in 1902 as a base for film making, and films have been made on the site ever since. It is the oldest continuously working studio facility for film production in the world, and the current stages were opened for the use of sound in 1931.

A comedy film is a genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humour. These films are designed to make the audience laugh through amusement and most often work by exaggerating characteristics for humorous effect. Films in this style traditionally have a happy ending. One of the oldest genres in film – and derived from the classical comedy in theatre –, some of the very first silent movies were comedies, as slapstick comedy often relies on visual depictions, without requiring sound. When sound films became more prevalent during the 1920s, comedy films took another swing, as laughter could result from burlesque situations but also dialogue.

Alec Guinness British actor

Sir Alec Guinness, was an English actor. After an early career on the stage, Guinness was featured in several of the Ealing Comedies, including The Ladykillers and Kind Hearts and Coronets in which he played nine different characters. He is known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai, Prince Faisal in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), General Yevgraf Zhivago in Doctor Zhivago (1965), and Professor Godbole in A Passage to India (1984). He is also known for his portrayal of Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy; for the original film, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 50th Academy Awards.

Contents

Plot

William Horatio Ambrose (Guinness) wants desperately to live up to the proud family tradition; the Ambroses have always been mariners (if not exactly distinguished ones), hence their family motto, "Omnes per Mare" ("All at Sea"). In humorous vignettes, Guinness portrays six of his ancestors, starting with a confused caveman perpetually going in circles in his coracle and ending with his own father's ignominious demise at the Battle of Jutland. Ambrose has a debilitating problem however: he gets violently seasick at the slightest excuse. As a result, his contribution to the Second World War consists of testing cures for the malady.

Coracle small, roundish shaped lightweight boat

The coracle is a small, rounded, lightweight boat of the sort traditionally used in Wales, and also in parts of the West Country and in Ireland, particularly the River Boyne, and in Scotland, particularly the River Spey. The word is also used of similar boats found in India, Vietnam, Iraq and Tibet. The word "coracle" is an English spelling of the original Welsh cwrwgl, cognate with Irish and Scottish Gaelic currach, and is recorded in English text as early as the sixteenth century. Other historical English spellings include corougle, corracle, curricle and coricle.

Battle of Jutland 1916 naval battle during World War I

The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle fought between Britain's Royal Navy Grand Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet, under Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, during the First World War. The battle unfolded in extensive manoeuvring and three main engagements, from 31 May to 1 June 1916, off the North Sea coast of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula. It was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war. Jutland was the third fleet action between steel battleships, following the long range gunnery duel at the Yellow Sea (1904) and the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War. Jutland was the last major battle in world history fought primarily by battleships.

When he retires from the Royal Navy as a captain, he purchases a dilapidated late Victorian era amusement pier (the closest thing to a command of his own) with his life savings. The workers are an apathetic bunch, led by an insolent Figg (Victor Maddern), who quits as soon as the new owner begins imposing some semblance of discipline. With the assistance of his new second-in-command, a former RN rating named Tommy (Percy Herbert), and much hard work with help by a group of bored local teenagers, Ambrose soon has the pier repaired.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

Victor Maddern English actor

Victor Jack Maddern was an English actor, described by The Telegraph as having "one of the most distinctive and eloquent faces in post-war British cinema."

Percy Herbert (actor) British actor

Percy Herbert was an English actor. He worked predominantly from the 1950s into the 1970s and became one of the most recognisable faces in post-war British cinema.

Then he has to deal with the local town council, headed by the crooked Mayor Crowley (Maurice Denham) and the hostile Arabella Barrington (Irene Browne), who mistakes him for a Peeping Tom when they first meet. Every time he comes up with an ingenious way to make his business profitable, they see to it that the council outlaws it. When Crowley decides to confiscate and demolish Ambrose's pier and Barrington's bathing huts (under compulsory purchase) to further his own business interests, she resigns from the council and informs Ambrose. He counters by registering his property as a "foreign" naval vessel (christened the Arabella), under the flag of convenience of the easygoing country of "Liberama", which puts it outside the town's jurisdiction. He soon attracts many happy, paying passengers for his stationary inaugural "cruise".

Maurice Denham British actor

William Maurice Denham, OBE was an English character actor, who appeared in over 100 television programmes and films in his long career.

Irene Browne British actress

Irene Browne was an English stage and film actress and singer who appeared in plays and musicals including No, No, Nanette. Later in her career, she became particularly associated with the works of Noël Coward and acted in films.

Voyeurism Sexual interest in or practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviors

Voyeurism is the sexual interest in or practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviors, such as undressing, sexual activity, or other actions usually considered to be of a private nature.

Thwarted, Crowley hires Figg to take his dredger and demolish the structure late at night. Using a seasickness remedy suggested by Barrington, Ambrose is able to take to sea and foil the scheme (with his ghostly ancestors watching approvingly), but in the process, part of the pier becomes detached and floats away. He remains aboard to prevent salvagers from claiming it and drifts over to France, where he is hailed as a naval hero.

Marine salvage is the process of recovering a ship and its cargo after a shipwreck or other maritime casualty. Salvage may encompass towing, re-floating a vessel, or effecting repairs to a ship. Today, protecting the coastal environment from spillage of oil or other contaminants is a high priority. Before the invention of radio, salvage services would be given to a stricken vessel by any ship that happened to be passing by. Nowadays, most salvage is carried out by specialist salvage firms with dedicated crew and equipment.

Cast

As appearing in Barnacle Bill, (main roles and screen credits identified): [5]

Production

Guinness appeared in the film as a favour to the director. In later years, however, he recalled it as "wretched, (a film) ... I never wanted to do and only did out of friendship to Charley Frend." [7] Although Barnacle Bill was the last Ealing comedy, it was shot at Hunstanton Pier [8] and Borehamwood Studios, as Ealing Studios had closed and was sold to the BBC for television production. [4]

Reception

“Barnacle Bill” opened at the Empire Cinema in London on the 11 December 1957 [1] and was later released with the title “All At Sea” in America.

Barnacle Bill as All at Sea was reviewed in The New York Times by Bosley Crowther. His review was sympathetic to the failings of the film and script but he did see redeeming qualities in Guinness's performance. "Mr. Clarke's whimsical notion doesn't sail quite the untroubled sea that Mr. Guinness' pier does. It runs into roughness, now and then, which requires rather diligent overacting and farcical behavior by all hands. But Mr. Guinness, who has made an art of underplaying, never goes too far overboard ..." [9]

Box office

According to MGM records above, the film cost $659,000 to make (see budget note 1 above) and earned $405,000 in the US and Canada, plus $545,000 elsewhere, ($950,000 in total, see note 1 above) resulting in a return on investment of 44%, and a profit of $291,000. [2]

See also

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References

Notes

  1. Guinness actually served in the Royal Navy in the Second World War. [6]

Citations

  1. 1 2 "Art & Hue presents Jackie Collins". Art & Hue. 2019. Retrieved 11 April 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  3. Guinness 2001, p. 224.
  4. 1 2 McGee, Scott. "This Month: All at Sea." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 3 August 2013.
  5. "Credits: All at Sea (1957)." IMDb. Retrieved: 3 August 2013.
  6. Houterman, J.N."Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) Officers 1939–1945." Unithistories.com. Retrieved: 3 August 2013.
  7. Read 2005, p. 301.
  8. http://www.hunstantonlife.co.uk/about_hunstanton/hunstanton-pier/
  9. "All at Sea (1957); The screen: 'All at Sea'; Guinness is starred in T.E.B. Clarke script." The New York Times , 23 December 1957.

Bibliography

  • Guinness, Alec. A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, 1996–1998. London: Penguin Books, 2001. ISBN   978-0-14-029964-9.
  • Read, Piers Paul. Alec Guinness: The Authorised Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. ISBN   978-0-7432-4498-5.