Lilacs in the Spring

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Lilacs in the Spring
Lilacs in the Spring2 - Poster.jpg
1954 Theatrical Poster
Directed by Herbert Wilcox
Produced by Herbert Wilcox
Based onthe stage musical The Glorious Days book by Harold Purcell and Robert Nesbitt
Starring Errol Flynn
Anna Neagle
David Farrar
Kathleen Harrison
Cinematography Max Greene
Production
company
Everest Pictures
Distributed by Republic Pictures (UK)
United Artists (US)
Release date
1954 (UK)
1956 (US)
Running time
94 mins (UK)
72 mins (USA)
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

Lilacs in the Spring is a 1954 British musical film starring Anna Neagle and Errol Flynn. It was the first of two movies the stars made together, the other being King's Rhapsody . It was released in the US as Let's Make Up. It was the feature film debut of (the then-unknown) Sean Connery.

Contents

Plot

A young actress, Carole Beaumont, is wooed by actor-producer Charles King but she is unsure how she feels about him. During an air raid in the Blitz, a bomb explosion rocks the cafe and Carole is knocked unconscious. In her confused state, fantasies flash through her mind, and she seems to become Nell Gwyn of Old Drury, with Charles King looking very much like King Charles.

Recovering, she is advised by her doctor to take a rest in the country and, there, another beau, Albert Gutman, prompts his grandmother, Lady Drayton (Helen Haye), to invite Carole to their family home at Windsor. She accepts and telephones Charles but hangs up when his phone is answered by a female voice.

Looking out on Windsor Castle, she sees herself as the young Queen Victoria and Albert as Prince Albert. Influenced by her day-dream, she accepts Albert's proposal. Charles arrives to tell her that all arrangements are made for her to leave with him and the company for Burma, but she refuses saying she will never marry an actor.

Barmaid Kate tells Charles why Carole feels the way she does about actors: Carole's mother, Lillian Grey, was with a touring show in 1913 when the handsome star, John Beaumont raised her from the chorus to be his partner in his first West End show. They were a success, fell in love and were married. But the war soon took Beau off to Flanders and Lillian was left to become a great star on her own. Carole was born in wartime, but saw little of her busy mother.

Cast

The Glorious Days

The Glorious Days
MusicHarry Parr Davies
BookRobert Nesbitt
ProductionsLondon 1953

The script was based on the stage musical The Glorious Days, which had been a big success for Neagle, running for two years and 467 performances. [1] It referenced several earlier hits of Neagle, including Nell Gwynn (1934) and Victoria the Great (1937).

Production

The film was made by Everest Pictures, a new production company from producer-director Herbert Wilcox. Wilcox had just made three films in collaboration with Republic Pictures, and hoped for them to finance films of two Ivor Novello musicals he had purchased. When this did not happen, he was forced to obtain finance from British Lion. [2] Neagle and Wilcox guaranteed a loan of £75,000 to make the film. This later contributed to Wilcox's bankruptcy when the films failed. [3]

Errol Flynn agreed to make the film to pay off the debts he incurred due to his abandoned William Tell project, The Story of William Tell . [4] [5]

The movie was shot at Elstree Studios in London in July 1954. [6] Neagle enjoyed working with her co-star:

I love naturalness and simplicity and Errol Flynn has this to a charming degree. He has made so many friends on this picture with his sense of fun and his conscientiousness and he has been enormously co-operative. It's so unfair to judge people by what you read or hear and I mst confess I was not prepared to find him such a hard worker. [7]

Flynn used his real singing voice. [8]

Reception

United States Let's Make Up Theatrical Poster Lilacs in the Spring - Poster.jpg
United States Let's Make Up Theatrical Poster

The film was not a success at the box office, in England or the USA.

Critical response

Dilys Powell of the Sunday Times said the film's "pleasures are innocuous and domesticated." [9] C. A. Lejeune wrote that Flynn and Neagle "quietly manage a parody of the period that is not without distinction." [10]

The critic for the Los Angeles Times said "I could discover little reason for its being made". [11]

Filmink magazine called it "a mess – fascinating, but a mess." [12]

Other Flynn-Wilcox collaborations

Wilcox announced he had signed Flynn to make six films over two years. (Another figure quoted was £12,000 for three films over 12 months.) [13] Among the proposed projects were a version of Somerset Maugham's Caesar's Wife [14] and a movie about Napoleon's escape from Elba, with Flynn to play an Irish soldier of fortune, but no film resulted. [15]

Related Research Articles

Errol Flynn Australian-born American actor

Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn was an Australian-born actor. Considered the natural successor to Douglas Fairbanks, he achieved worldwide fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was known for his romantic swashbuckler roles, frequent partnerships with Olivia de Havilland, and reputation for his womanising and hedonistic personal life. His most notable roles include the eponymous hero in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), which was later named by the American Film Institute as the 18th greatest hero in American film history, the lead role in Captain Blood (1935), Major Geoffrey Vickers in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), and the hero in a number of Westerns such as Dodge City (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940), and San Antonio (1945).

Anna Neagle English stage and film actress and singer

Dame Florence Marjorie Wilcox, known professionally as Anna Neagle, was an English stage and film actress, singer and dancer.

Michael Wilding English actor

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Margaret Lockwood British stage and film actress

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Hetty King

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<i>Victoria the Great</i>

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Herbert Wilcox Film producer and director from Britain

Herbert Sydney Wilcox CBE, was a British film producer and director who was one of the most successful British filmmakers from the 1920s to the 1950s. He is best known for the films he made with his third wife Anna Neagle.

Kings Rhapsody

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<i>Yellow Canary</i> (film) 1943 film by Herbert Wilcox

Yellow Canary is a 1943 British drama film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Richard Greene and Albert Lieven. Neagle plays a British Nazi sympathizer who travels to Halifax, Canada, trailed by spies from both sides during the Second World War. Neagle and director/producer Wilcox collaborated on a number of previous film projects.

<i>The Master of Ballantrae</i> (1953 film) 1953 film by William Keighley

The Master of Ballantrae is a 1953 British Technicolor adventure film starring Errol Flynn and Roger Livesey. It is a loose and highly truncated adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson 1889 novel of the same name. In eighteenth century Scotland, two sons of a laird clash over the family estate and a lady.

<i>Dawn</i> (1928 film) 1928 film

Dawn is a 1928 British silent war film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Sybil Thorndike, Gordon Craig and Marie Ault. It was produced by Wilcox for his British & Dominions Film Corporation. The film was made at Cricklewood Studios with sets designed by Clifford Pember.

<i>Nell Gwynn</i> (1934 film)

Nell Gwynn is a 1934 British historical drama film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Cedric Hardwicke, Jeanne de Casalis, Miles Malleson and Moore Marriott. The film portrays the historical romance between Charles II of England and the actress Nell Gwynn. In the opening credits, the screenplay is attributed to Miles Malleson, "in collaboration with King Charles II, Samuel Pepys and Nell Gwyn." It was also released as Mistress Nell Gwyn.

<i>Limelight</i> (1936 film)

Limelight is a 1936 British musical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Arthur Tracy, Anna Neagle and Jane Winton. It was released in the U.S. as Backstage.

<i>Piccadilly Incident</i>

Piccadilly Incident is a 1946 British drama film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Michael Wilding, Coral Browne, Edward Rigby and Leslie Dwyer. Wilcox teamed his wife Anna Neagle with Michael Wilding for the first time, establishing them as top box-office stars in five more films, ending with The Lady with a Lamp in 1951. Wilding was third choice for leading man after Rex Harrison and John Mills.

<i>Trents Last Case</i> (1952 film)

Trent's Last Case is a 1952 British detective film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Michael Wilding, Margaret Lockwood, Orson Welles and John McCallum. It was based on the 1913 novel Trent's Last Case by E. C. Bentley, and had been filmed previously in the UK with Clive Brook in 1920, and in a 1929 US version.

<i>Laughing Anne</i> 1953 film by Herbert Wilcox

Laughing Anne is a 1953 British adventure film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Wendell Corey, Margaret Lockwood, Forrest Tucker, and Ronald Shiner. It was adapted from Joseph Conrad's short story, "Because of the Dollars" and from his 1923 two-act play, Laughing Anne.

<i>Kings Rhapsody</i> (film)

King's Rhapsody is a 1955 English musical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Errol Flynn and Patrice Wymore. Wymore was Errol Flynn's wife at the time of filming. It was based on the successful stage musical King's Rhapsody by Ivor Novello.

<i>Nell Gwyn</i> (1926 film) 1926 film by Herbert Wilcox

Nell Gwyn is a 1926 British romance film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Dorothy Gish, Randle Ayrton and Juliette Compton. It was based on the 1926 novel Mistress Nell Gwyn by Marjorie Bowen and follows the life of Nell Gwynne, the mistress of Charles II. Wilcox later made a second version of the film in 1934, Nell Gwynn which starred Anna Neagle.

Sweet Nell of Old Drury is a 1911 Australian silent film directed by Raymond Longford starring Nellie Stewart about the relationship between Nell Gwynne and King Charles II. It is based on the 1900 play of the same name by Paul Kester which Stewart had performed numerous times on stage.

<i>The Story of William Tell</i>

The Story of William Tell is an unfinished film about William Tell. It starred and was produced by Errol Flynn. It commenced filming in Italy in 1953 and was meant to be the directorial debut of Jack Cardiff. It was filmed in CinemaScope. A £10,000 model town set was built near Mont Blanc.

References

  1. "ANNA BACK TO SONG AND DANCE". The Mail . Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 5 June 1954. p. 6 Supplement: SUNDAY MAGAZINE. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  2. Harper, Sue; Porter, Vincent (2003). British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference. Oxford University Press. pp. 157–158. ISBN   9780198159346.
  3. "Mr Herbert Wilcox is freed front bankruptcy". The Guardian. 18 May 1966. p. 5.
  4. "DON IDDON'S AMERICAN DIARY". The Advertiser . Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 28 May 1954. p. 2. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  5. Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer & Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 199-200
  6. "SPOTLIGHT ON THE STARS". Western Mail . Perth: National Library of Australia. 10 June 1954. p. 28. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  7. "Actress Anna Neagle Tells Secret of Her Flat Tummy" Lane, Lydia. Los Angeles Times 11 July 1954: C9.
  8. "Flynn's voice will do". The Mail . Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 26 June 1954. p. 6 Supplement: SUNDAY MAGAZINE. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  9. Powell, Dilys. "Folk-Tale." Sunday Times [London, England] 26 Dec. 1954: 4. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
  10. "BROTHERLY LOVE" Lejeune, C A. The Observer [London (UK)] 26 Dec 1954: 7.
  11. "Brothers' Conflict Acted by Van Johnson, Cotten" Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 02 Feb 1956: 37.
  12. Vagg, Stephen (November 30, 2019). "The Films of Errol Flynn: Part 5 – On the Bum, 1950-1955". Filmink.
  13. "Errol Flynn feared he might be slipping". The Sunday Times . Perth: National Library of Australia. 21 November 1954. p. 24 Section: SPORTS SECTION. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  14. "Flynn—Neagle to continue as team". The Mail . Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 6 November 1954. p. 64. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  15. "Cold on Scriptwriter ROMEO'S O.K. JULIET'S O.K. —BILL? NO!". The Sunday Times . Perth: National Library of Australia. 12 September 1954. p. 17 Supplement: FASHION SUPPLEMENT. Retrieved 5 July 2012.