HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
   
 
Newest Articles
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
   
 
  Holly and the Ivy, The Home For Christmas
Year: 1952
Director: George More O'Ferrall
Stars: Ralph Richardson, Celia Johnson, Margaret Leighton, Denholm Elliott, John Gregson, Hugh Williams, Margaret Halstan, Maureen Delaney, William Hartnell, Robert Flemyng, Roland Culver, John Barry, Dandy Nichols
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Reverend Martin Gregory (Ralph Richardson) stays in a small, middle class village in Norfolk, but aside from the daughter Jenny (Celia Johnson) who lives with him as essentially his housekeeper, he doesn't get to see his family often now that his wife has passed on. The exception to this is at Christmas, when they gather at his vicarage for the festive season involving presents, a large meal and a trip to church to attend his sermon, but for the past few years, eldest sister Margaret (Margaret Leighton) has not shown up, making her excuses that she is too busy with her metropolitan life to spend time away from the capital. But what if she makes an effort this year?

The Holly and the Ivy started its life as a stage play by Wynyard Browne, one of a great number of similarly told tales of fairly well-to-do folks who suffer some bother or other that would be resolved by the time the curtain came down. He was not the most celebrated of these playwrights, nor was he unsuccessful, and this play in particular became a firm favourite of repertory companies looking for a production around Christmastime to send audiences away with a warm, cosy feeling. Needless to say, this sort of thing was swept away by the Angry Young Men of the nineteen-fifties, as British theatre, and indeed cinema, seemed to change virtually overnight, not that it actually did.

But the rabble-rousing playwrights like John Osborne and his ilk garnered a lot of publicity and made the likes of Terrence Rattigan and Noel Coward look like dinosaurs, meaning it was just as well producer and writer Anatole de Grunwald decided to adapt The Holly and the Ivy into a film before it was relegated to the "Deeply Unfashionable" file. Nevertheless, even those who enjoyed its middlebrow melodrama on the stage were not entirely onboard with the picture as it stood, the director George More O'Ferrall landed with the blame for making a wholly safe and unadventurous piece for the screen, which was never going to be the favourite of critics and the more refined palate.

But really, this approach was perfectly satisfactory for the material, all you needed to do was point the camera at the cast going through their performances to some degree of adequacy and it would succeed as a fine trip to the cinema for most audiences in the Britain of the day. Yet while this sounds rather musty as an entertainment, to dismiss it out of hand would be a mistake; sure, it was dedicated to that Yuletide atmosphere to offset the celebrations of the viewers, and for that reason has generated a cult following after a fashion of those who would prefer a Christmas movie that is not as obvious as certain choices they could make. But there was a tragic element to the storyline that added a depth you might not have expected - this, too, could have been hokey, but there was quality in the acting.

The cast was stuffed with reliables like a turkey was stuffed with sage and onion, yet they were reliable for a reason: they could deliver a good performance that neither patronised nor betrayed the script, or those who had enjoyed it on the stage. Yes, Johnson was visibly too old to be playing her role - or maybe Jenny has been so worn down by her guilt at wanting her own life it has aged her prematurely - and Richardson could essay this sort of bluff old cove in his sleep, but Leighton was where the treasure lay. As we discover, Margaret has been struggling with her life because of a loss that could have been prime soap opera, however she was able to sell it with a careful reading of the character's fragile defences she has buttressed with drink. One of the aunts, Margaret Halstan in what was a signature role for her, reminisces about Christmases past in a manner indicating nostalgia is ever with us, and the present is never as rosy as we would like, but the comfort in honest company is not to be underestimated. Music by Malcolm Arnold, prettily weaving in carols.

[Studio Canal's Blu-ray has two featurettes from film scholars and an audio commentary from same; there's also a stills gallery.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 776 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: