Folly to Be Wise

Last updated

Folly to Be Wise
Folly to Be Wise (1953 film).jpg
Directed by Frank Launder
Written by James Bridie (play)
John Dighton
Frank Launder
Produced by Sidney Gilliat
Starring Alastair Sim
Elizabeth Allan
Roland Culver
Edward Chapman
Martita Hunt
Cinematography Jack Hildyard
Edited by Thelma Connell
Music byTemple Abady
Production
company
Distributed byBritish Lion Film Corporation
Release date
  • 19 January 1953 (1953-01-19)
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

Folly to Be Wise is a 1953 British comedy film directed by Frank Launder and starring Alastair Sim, Elizabeth Allan, Roland Culver, Colin Gordon, Martita Hunt and Edward Chapman. It is based on the play It Depends What You Mean by James Bridie. [1] The film follows the efforts of a British Army chaplain attempting to recruit entertainment acts to perform for the troops and the complications that ensue when he does. [2] The title is taken from the line by Thomas Gray "where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise".

Contents

Plot

Having recently taken over the role of Entertainments Officer at an army camp, the army chaplain Captain William Paris (Sim) is disheartened that so few of the troops turn out for an evening of classical music. He visits a local pub, "The Rose and Crown", and finds the place packed with soldiers, including his own driver. He resolves to try and secure something more entertaining for the troops and decides to copy the idea of a brains trust, as in a popular BBC radio programme, where panellists answer questions from the audience.

With the help of Lady Dodds, Paris manages to gather together a group of local notables. These individuals each prove to be mildly eccentric. The group includes the opinionated Professor Mutch, who is a popular radio personality on BBC radio, and his friend the oil painter George Prout and his wife Angela. Arriving at the Prout's house, Paris interrupts Mutch and Mrs Prout who are about to embrace. Then meeting Mr Prout, he soon finds him a cold man who verbally abuses his wife. The 'brains trust' panel is rounded out by the hard-of-hearing Doctor McAdam and the chippy local Labour MP Joseph Byres.

With the help of his secretary, Private Jessie Killigrew, the chaplain manages to organise the event. The hall is relatively well filled. Trying to avoid anything controversial, Paris forbids any discussion of politics or religion and begins with some innocuous questions about cows chasing after trains and if the Moon is inhabited. Things soon become heated when Mr Byres, the local MP, takes offence at comments directed at him and threatens to start a fight. Having only just averted this, a question about marriage from Killigrew reveals the fragility of the Prouts' marriage. Fearing any controversy, Paris quickly announces that it is time for the interval.

As word spreads around the camp of the goings-on, the second half begins with the room completely packed. Paris tries to steer the debate back to harmless questions about bluebottles, but Killigrew interrupts and demands an answer to her earlier question about marriage. As the Prouts begin arguing once again, Mrs Prout admits that the Professor is her "lover". At this, the whole event threatens to descend into anarchy despite Paris' attempts to maintain order. Desperate to restore a sense of propriety, he draws the proceedings to a close, and announces that next week they will return to classical music with a string quartet. A soldier stands up and thanks the chaplain for providing such entertainment and asking if the 'brains trust' can be made a regular feature, to rapturous applause.

Worried about Mr Prout, who has disappeared and has been drinking heavily, the others follow him back to his house, where they mistakenly come to believe that he is going to throw himself over the cliffs, whereas he is merely planning a bit of quiet painting. Meanwhile, the Professor has revealed himself to be an inherently selfish man, while Mr Prout is suddenly far more reasonable. He and Mrs Prout soon resolve their differences, and he tries to be a little more considerate to her.

The film ends with the string quartet playing once more and Paris sitting in an almost empty theatre.

Cast

Production

The film was shot at Shepperton Studios and made by the British Lion Film Corporation. James Bridie wrote the screenplay, adapting it from his own play. Alastair Sim had previously produced the play in a 1944 run at the Westminster Theatre and was a driving force behind bringing it to the screen. [4] Launder was encouraged to make the film by Alexander Korda. [5]

The play was broadcast live by BBC Television on 25 June 1946. [6]

Reception

A contemporary New York Times review described the film as a "cheerful British import". While noting that the film did not "succeed in building into towering proportions the fragile theme of what makes a marriage tick" the cast had made it "all worth while". The review praised the performance by Alastair Sim in particular. [7]

Sim was nominated for a Best Actor BAFTA for his role as Captain Paris, but lost to Ralph Richardson for his performance in The Sound Barrier . [8]

Related Research Articles

Alastair Sim Scottish actor

Alastair George Bell Sim, CBE was a Scottish character actor who began his theatrical career at the age of thirty and quickly became established as a popular West End performer, remaining so until his death in 1976. Starting in 1935, he also appeared in more than fifty British films, including an iconic adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novella A Christmas Carol, released in 1951 as Scrooge in Great Britain and as A Christmas Carol in the United States. Though an accomplished dramatic actor, he is often remembered for his comically sinister performances.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Junkin</span> British TV and Radio performer, writer

John Francis Junkin was an English actor and scriptwriter who had a long career in radio, television and film, specialising in comedy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Cole (actor)</span> English actor

George Edward Cole, OBE was an English actor whose career spanned 75 years. He was best known for playing Arthur Daley in the long-running ITV comedy-drama show Minder and Flash Harry in the early St Trinian's films.

Martita Hunt British actress (1900–1969)

Martita Edith Hunt was an Argentine-born British theatre and film actress. She had a dominant stage presence and played a wide range of powerful characters. She is best remembered for her performance as Miss Havisham in David Lean's Great Expectations.

Wilfrid Hyde-White British actor

Wilfrid Hyde-White was a British character actor of stage, film and television. He achieved international recognition for his role as Colonel Pickering in the film version of the musical My Fair Lady (1964).

Bryan Forbes English film director, screenwriter and actor (1926–2013)

Bryan Forbes CBE was an English film director, screenwriter, film producer, actor and novelist described as a "Renaissance man" and "one of the most important figures in the British film industry".

<i>Doctor in the House</i> 1954 British film

Doctor in the House is a 1954 British comedy film directed by Ralph Thomas and produced by Betty Box. The screenplay, by Nicholas Phipps, Richard Gordon and Ronald Wilkinson, is based on the 1952 novel by Gordon, and follows a group of students through medical school.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Colin Gordon</span> British actor

Colin Gordon was a British actor born in Ceylon.

James Bridie

James Bridie was the pseudonym of a Scottish playwright, screenwriter and physician whose real name was Osborne Henry Mavor. He took his pen-name from his paternal grandfather's first name and his grandmother's maiden name.

David Graham is an English retired actor. He is best known for voicing the Daleks in Doctor Who, Gordon Tracy, Brains, Aloysius Parker and Kyrano in Thunderbirds and Grandpa Pig in Peppa Pig.

<i>Mr. Topaze</i> 1961 film

Mr. Topaze is Peter Sellers' directorial debut in 1961. Starring Sellers, Nadia Gray, Leo McKern, and Herbert Lom. His son Michael Sellers plays in the film in the role of Gaston. The film is based on the eponymous play by Marcel Pagnol.

<i>Laughter in Paradise</i> 1951 British film

Laughter in Paradise is a British comedy film released in 1951. The film stars Alastair Sim, Fay Compton, George Cole and Guy Middleton. The film was remade as Some Will, Some Won't (1970).

Maurice Elvey was one of the most prolific film directors in British history. He directed nearly 200 films between 1913 and 1957. During the silent film era he directed as many as twenty films per year. He also produced more than fifty films - his own as well as films directed by others.

The 6th British Academy Film Awards, retroactively known as the British Academy Film Awards, given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in 1953, honoured the best films of 1952. The Sound Barrier won the award for Best Film.

<i>Quiet Wedding</i> 1941 film by Anthony Asquith

Quiet Wedding is a 1941 British romantic comedy film directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Margaret Lockwood, Derek Farr and Marjorie Fielding. The screenplay was written by Terence Rattigan and Anatole de Grunwald based on the play Quiet Wedding by Esther McCracken. The film was remade in 1958 as Happy Is the Bride.

<i>Pot Luck</i> (1936 film) 1936 British film

Pot Luck is a 1936 British comedy film directed by and starring Tom Walls. The screenplay is by Ben Travers based loosely on his 1930 stage play A Night Like This. It also featured Ralph Lynn, Robertson Hare, Diana Churchill and Martita Hunt. The cast included members of the regular Aldwych Farce company.

<i>Seven Keys</i> (film) 1962 British film

Seven Keys is a 1962 British crime thriller directed by Pat Jackson and starring Alan Dobie.

<i>Left Right and Centre</i> 1959 British film

Left Right and Centre is a 1959 British satirical comedy film directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring Ian Carmichael, Patricia Bredin, Richard Wattis, Eric Barker and Alastair Sim. It was produced by Frank Launder. A political comedy, it follows the events of a by-election in a small English town.

<i>Dear Mr. Prohack</i> 1949 British film

Dear Mr. Prohack is a 1949 British comedy film directed by Thornton Freeland. It is a modern-day version of Arnold Bennett's 1922 novel, Mr Prohack, as adapted in the play by Edward Knoblock. It stars Cecil Parker, Glynis Johns and Dirk Bogarde.

Alastair Sim on stage and screen

The Scottish actor Alastair Sim (1900–1976) performed in many media of light entertainment, including theatre, film and television. His career spanned from 1930 until his death. During that time he was a "memorable character player of faded Anglo-Scottish gentility, whimsically put-upon countenance, and sepulchral, sometimes minatory, laugh".

References

  1. "Folly to Be Wise". 6 December 1953 via www.imdb.com.
  2. "BFI | Film & TV Database | FOLLY TO BE WISE (1952)". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 16 April 2009. Archived from the original on 13 January 2009. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  3. Folly to Be Wise (1952) - IMDb , retrieved 6 August 2020
  4. "Folly to Be Wise | Britmovie | Home of British Films". Britmovie. Retrieved 15 July 2012.
  5. Harper & Porter p.98
  6. "It Depends What You Mean · British Universities Film & Video Council". bufvc.ac.uk.
  7. "Movie Review - - Article 2 -- No Title; ' Folly to Be Wise,' Cheerful British Import, Has Its Premiere at Art and Beekman Theatres - NYTimes.com". movies.nytimes.com.
  8. "BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org.

Bibliography