Sunday, July 31, 2011

90'S FOCUS : IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER ... 1995 ...

SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
Presents
A CASTLE ROCK ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION
IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER
Starring
RICHARD BRIERS as Henry Wakefield
HETTA CHARNLEY as Molly
JOAN COLLINS as Margerite Darcy
NICHOLAS FARRELL as Tom Newman
MARK HADFIELD as Vernon Spatch
GERARD HORAN as Carnforth Greville
CELIE IMRIE as Fadge
MICHAEL MOLONEY as Joe Harper
JENNIFER SAUNDERS as Nancy Crawford
JOHN SESSIONS as Terry Du Bois
JULIA SAWAHLA as Nina Raymond
JOAN AND MICHAEL MOLONEY DISCUSS 'HAMLET'..
Director of Photography - Roger Lanser
 Assistant Director - Simon Mosely
  Music by Jimmy Yuill
   Screenplay by Kenneth Brannagh
      Edited by Neil Farrell
          Produced by David Barron
             Directed by Kenneth Brannagh
                                           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
MARGERITE DISCUSSES THE FINER POINT OF CASTING
The show must go on for Joe Harper.. What with girlfriend problems... Not to mention lack of work... he decides to stage his own production of 'Hamlet'.. But it is no easy task, as he searches for a suitable cast and location. It's a race against time to get the production up and running, in time for Christmas.. Everything that can go wrong..does! In an empty church.. With an unlikely cast.. It's curtain up.. In The Bleak Midwinter!!
(c) 1995 SONY  98MINS  B/W DVD / WARNER ARCHIVE
RECENT DVD FROM WARNER ARCHIVE
Joan loved the script of this labour of love piece by Kenneth Brannagh, who financed the film himself. Joan was paid very little to appear in the film, but as her role was that of an assertive agent, she gladly accepted. Her father Joe had been an agent to the stars, looking after Roger Moore, Dorothy Squires and Shirley Bassey, she was delighted to portray such a character. Brannagh intended to make a film along the lines of the classic early Ealing comedies.
Kenneth commented...
"I don't want any of the major studios telling me what I can or can't do anymore. When I was making 'Frankenstein'. it was a total nightmare! One person would say one thing, then someone else would contradict it. They wanted total control."
Brannagh decided to make the film in b/w on instinct, as he had enjoyed many back stage movies including '42nd Street' and the old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney films, they suited that look. He was a fan of the Woody Allen films that were shot in b/w.
JOAN AND JENNIFER SAUNDERS INHALE A HAMLET!
Kenneth had met Joan at the premiere of 'Frankenstein', they both got on very well together. While casting 'Midwinter', he recalled their conversation and offered her the role..
"We talked about possibly working together.. I often like to cast people who may seem surprising in certain roles. I wanted someone with a real sense of showbiz. That everything that Joe thinks that he wants, is represented by somebody, in this case Joan Collins. That's very easy because she does represent tremendous glamour and a sense of showbiz. But I was rather terrified about working with her to begin with, but found her to be a sweety."
JOAN WITH KENNETH AT THE LONDON PREMIERE.
Joan's co-star Michael Moloney also had great admiration for her.
"She was terrific. She has extraordinary film technique. Extraordinary durability. I mean, she's very, very hardworking. If you consider she is always in the public eye, she also attracts, as a result, a great deal of negativity, a great deal of opposition, usually from her own community, rather than abroad. She has that sort of immense staying power, which I would question if I have it or not! She is able to be and act that throughout her career, whereas many others would have destroyed themselves. For me that is just admirable, absolutely admirable and it was a pleasure to work with her."
UK VIDEO SLEEVE
The film was shown at the 1995 Venice Film Festival, where it won the Golden Osella Award for Kenneth Brannagh as director. It was also nominated for a Golden Lion Award.
VARIETY .....
"A 'lets put on a show' approach is brought to a provincial church production of 'Hamlet', to deleterious effect in 'In The Bleak Midwinter'. Further evidence that Kenneth Brannagh treads into the 20th century on screen at his own peril. This small scale, putatively comic meditation on the anxieties and joy of the theatrical life says nothing fresh about the artistic process and manages to be coy and grating in doing so. Lack of amusement value and largely no name cast, coupled with deceptive title, spells a bleak B.O season indeed!"
SIGNED SCREENPLAY BOOK
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE ....
"After making 'A Midwinter's Tale', the story of a desperate actor determined to mount a ragtag production of 'Hamlet'. Kenneth Brannagh himself admitted his debt to the old Rooney/Garland movies about a spunky bunch of kids who put on a show using nothing but talent, drive and good morals. He owes an equal debt to Woody Allen, whose stark white on black title sequence he borrowed from. Joan Collins plays the sneering agent and is perfect in the role. She keeps the creaky plot turning, still the performances by the cast, who seem to be having a good time, talking at screwball comedy speed, chewing the scenery and taking pratfalls. Making you want to run out and put on a show!"
The film was retitled 'A Midwinter's Tale' in the USA and was well received. It is a charming film, with weird and wonderful characters, Joan is as stylish and highly watchable as ever. Perfect viewing for a cold winters evening!
(C) 2011  Mark McMorrow ...


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