|Lilacs in the Spring|
1954 Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Herbert Wilcox|
|Produced by||Herbert Wilcox|
|Based on||the stage musical The Glorious Days book by Harold Purcell and Robert Nesbitt|
|Starring|| Errol Flynn |
|Distributed by|| Republic Pictures (UK)|
United Artists (US)
|94 mins (UK)|
72 mins (USA)
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.
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.
|The Glorious Days|
|Music||Harry Parr Davies|
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.It referenced several earlier hits of Neagle, including Nell Gwynn (1934) and Victoria the Great (1937).
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.Neagle and Wilcox guaranteed a loan of £75,000 to make the film. This later contributed to Wilcox's bankruptcy when the films failed.
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 .
The movie was shot at Elstree Studios in London in July 1954.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.
Flynn used his real singing voice.
The film was not a success at the box office, in England or the USA.
Dilys Powell of the Sunday Times said the film's "pleasures are innocuous and domesticated."C. A. Lejeune wrote that Flynn and Neagle "quietly manage a parody of the period that is not without distinction."
The critic for the Los Angeles Times said "I could discover little reason for its being made".
Filmink magazine called it "a mess – fascinating, but a mess."
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.)Among the proposed projects were a version of Somerset Maugham's Caesar's Wife and a movie about Napoleon's escape from Elba, with Flynn to play an Irish soldier of fortune, but no film resulted.
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).
Dame Florence Marjorie Wilcox, known professionally as Anna Neagle, was an English stage and film actress, singer and dancer.
Michael Charles Gauntlet Wilding was an English stage, television, and film actor. He is best known for a series of films he made with Anna Neagle, for the two films he made with Alfred Hitchcock and for being Elizabeth Taylor's second husband.
Margaret Lockwood, CBE, was an English actress. One of Britain's most popular film stars of the 1930s and 1940s, her film appearances included The Lady Vanishes (1938), Night Train to Munich (1940), The Man in Grey (1943), and The Wicked Lady (1945). She was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress for the 1955 film Cast a Dark Shadow. She also starred in the television series Justice (1971–74).
Winifred Emms, best known by her stage name Hetty King, was an English entertainer who performed in the music halls as a male impersonator over some 70 years.
Victoria the Great is a 1937 British historical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle, Anton Walbrook and Walter Rilla. When Laurence Housman's play Victoria Regina was banned by the Lord Chamberlain, its subsequent Broadway success prompted King Edward VIII to commission producer Herbert Wilcox to turn it into a film, commemorating the centenary of Victoria's reign. The film biography of Queen Victoria concentrates initially on the early years of her reign with her marriage to Prince Albert and her subsequent rule after Albert's death in 1861. It was released in the year of King George VI's coronation, which was also the centennial of Victoria's own accession to the throne. The movie was so successful that a sequel appeared the following year, Sixty Glorious Years.
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.
King's Rhapsody is a musical with book and music by Ivor Novello and lyrics by Christopher Hassall.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.