Anthony Asquith ‘greatest hits’

We’re greatly looking forward to our screening of ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’ tonight with composer-pianist, Joss Peach, at Fabrica in Brighton. As part of the preparations, we’ve been looking into the back catalogue of Director Anthony Asquith.

Asquith is noted for his family connections as much as for his filmography, because he was the son of the then-Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, and is the great-uncle of Helena Bonham Carter. He entered the film industry partly to escape his high profile family background and, although often belittled because of his aristocratic lineage, he was incredibly gifted. We’ve picked out a few of his finest…

Shooting Stars (1928)

A satire of the film industry, Asquith’s first film recently had the VIP treatment, with a new restoration from the BFI in 2015. It is sophisticated in its storytelling: a love triangle, with a treacherous British starlet, who gives the title of the film a clever double meaning.

Underground (1928)

This working-class romance is like a little time capsule of 1920s London. It was only Asquith’s second film (‘Shooting Stars’ was officially credited to A.V. Bramble), but you can see the gentle humour and warmth towards his subjects that also comes through in ‘A Cottage on Dartmoor’, giving away his staunch socialist values.

Pygmalion (1938)

After the silent era, Asquith’s career declined slightly until in the late 1930s, he was involved in a number of screen adaptations of films. This, based on the play of the same name by George Bernard Shaw, staring Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard, is delightful.

The Browning version (1951)

The first film adaptation of Terrence Rattigan’s play, Asquith’s version stars Michael Redgrave in one of the finest performances of his career, as the generally despised, but inwardly vulnerable classics teacher, ‘The Crock’, Andrew Crocker-Harris.

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952)

Asquith’s faithful adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “Trivial Comedy for Serious People” was his first colour film, and he approached it with a characteristic understated approach – rather than being full of bold, glitzy bright colours, the film has a largely pastel palette. The breathtaking costumes designed by Cecil Beaton are also worth a mention here, and of course, Edith Evan, who absolutely made the character of Lady Bracknell her own!

As a bonus (for local interest) we recently found this little gem, also directed by Asquith – ‘On Such a Night’ – a semi-documentary film about a visit to the Glyndebourne opera! Here’s the trailer:

Hopefully we’ll see you tonight at Fabrica – for full details, and to book, please visit Eventbrite

After this, we have the launch of the Bookshop Screening Room at Waterstones Brighton next Thursday, 9 February – tickets have already sold out, but details of future screenings and a full report will be posted shortly.

The Great War Weekend at Eastbourne Redoubt

As regular readers of this blog will be well aware, we have a screening of ‘A Very Long Engagement‘ at Eastbourne Redoubt next week. It’s to complement the museum’s ‘Great War Weekend’.

When deciding on the right film to screen at this event, the Filmspot team came up with a surprisingly diverse list of ideas, so we thought we’d share some of the other titles from our original shortlist with you here.

1. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) 

Directed by Lewis Milestone, All Quiet on the Western Front is rightly seen as one of the greatest anti-war films of all time. It is based on the novel of the same name by ErichMaria Remarque, and stars Louis Wolheim, Lew Ayres John wary and Ben Alexander. The film focuses on a group of German friends, who patriotically join the army, only to have their outlooks completely changed by the horrors of life in the trenches.

2. . Porco Rosso (1992) 

An unusual WWI-related film this charming film by animation legend Hayao Miazaki ,from the Japanese Studio Ghibli, is about a former WWI pilot who is turned into a pig. The art direction and animation is as stunning as you would expect from the studio responsible for Spirited Away, Spirited Away and Totoro.

3. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

David Lean‘s classic film about T.E. Lawrence, and his exploits in Arabia during WW1, stands the test of time, and remains one of the best-loved films of the 1960s. Peter O’Toole got his major break into feature films portraying the titular role, and this is often cited as his best performance.

4. Wings (1927) 

This silent film won the first ever ‘Best Picture’ Oscar. With a renewed interest in silent films, partly fuelled by the success and popularity of ‘The Artist’, it is a great time to revisit some of the classics of the silent era. Wings contains some incredible footage of airborne stunts – especially when seen by a modern audience, used to the smoke and mirrors of CGI effects.

5. Oh, what a lovely war! (1969)

This musical, directed by Richard Attenborough, really is a ‘who’s who’ of British acting talent in the late 60s. The cast includes Dirk Bogarde, John Gielgud, John Mills, Kenneth More, Laurence Olivier, Jack Hawkins, members of the Redgrave family, Maggie Smith and Ian Holm, just to name a few! The film somehow manages to portray the horrors of war, between a range of catchy ditties. A very surreal, but strangely moving feature.

So, all that remains is for me to mention once again… We will be kicking off our 2012 season with ‘A Very Long Engagement’, at Eastbourne Redoubt on 21st April at 8pm. We shall screen the film in original French with English subtitles.

See http://www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk/Events.htm for full details, and contact Eastbourne Redoubt for tickets on 01323 410300.

We look forward to seeing you all there!