Spring in Park Lane

Spring in Park Lane is a 1948 British romantic comedy film produced and directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Anna Neagle and Michael Wilding. It was the top movie at the British box office in 1948 and remains the most popular entirely British-made film ever in terms of all-time attendance.

Spring in Park Lane
Directed byHerbert Wilcox
Produced byHerbert Wilcox
Written byNicholas Phipps
Based onCome Out of the Kitchen
by Alice Duer Miller
StarringAnna Neagle
Michael Wilding
Tom Walls
Peter Graves
CinematographyMax Greene
Distributed byBritish Lion Film Corporation
Release date
17 March 1948
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Box office£358,788 (UK)[1]

Plot

A footman, Richard, played by Michael Wilding, is employed by Joshua Howard (Tom Walls), an eccentric art collector. His niece and secretary, Judy (Anna Neagle), has her doubts that Richard is the footman he pretends to be. In reality he is Lord Brent, brother of one of Judy's suitors - George, the Marquess of Borechester (Nicholas Phipps).

Prior to his arrival in the Howard domestic household, Richard went to America to sell some old paintings to restore his aristocratic family's fortunes, but on the way back received a message that the cheque he was given for the paintings is invalid. Richard subsequently decided to 'hide' until he saved enough money to return to America. Over time as a footman, Judy notices how knowledgeable Richard is about many cultural things from art, poetry, music and dancing and begins to suspect his is not all who he says he is. Things become interesting when his brother visits as one of Judy's suitors.

Through their various interactions, Richard and Judy fall in love, and as he is about to return to America they discover that the cheque for his family's paintings was valid after all.

Cast

Reception

Box Office

Released two years after the peak year for cinema attendances in the United Kingdom,[2] it nevertheless was substantially more successful than other contemporary releases, becoming the most successful film release of 1948 in the United Kingdom.[3][4]

In a 2004 survey by the BFI it was rated 5th in the all-time attendance figures for the United Kingdom, with total attendance of 20.5 million, still the largest figure for a wholly British made film.[5][6][7] Wilcox claims the film earned £1,600,000 at the British box office.[8]

Reviews

Reviews were generally positive, Variety said, "incident upon incident carry merry laughter through the picture".[9] and The New York Times described it as "attractively witty".[10]

A follow up, Maytime in Mayfair, was released the following year.

One memorable scene presents Tom Walls and a group of guests including (scriptwriter) Nicholas Phipps (re-christened Lord Borechester/Dorchester/Porchester at various points in the film) smoking cigars and exchanging jokes after a dinner party. Phipps' character begins an endless (and completely unfunny) would-be joke about 'Two Tommies - not in the last war - the LAST war' going back to their billets 'in the evening - after the day!'. As the joke drones on faces fall until the outraged Walls cuts in with 'Shall we join the ladies?'. The joke was briefly reprised (but never concluded) in the Wilding/Neagle follow-up 'Maytime in Mayfair' (1949) in which Walls re-appeared briefly as a policeman at the film's end. It was his last film role.

Soundtrack

Robert Farnon provides the soundtrack, his light orchestral version of the folk tune Early One Morning proving particularly popular at the time.

References

  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000
  2. BFI Releases list of the top 100 most-seen films Reel Classics, retrieved 28 May 2007
  3. "THE STARRY WAY". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 8 January 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  4. Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32 no. 3. p. 258.
  5. Screenonline, Spring in Park Lane BFI Screenonline, retrieved 27 May 2007
  6. Gone With The Wind tops the list of 100 most-watched films of all time Yorkshire Post, retrieved 28 May 2007
  7. The Ultimate Film: Researching the Chart Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine IFF, retrieved 28 May 2007
  8. Wilcox, Herbert (1967). Twenty Five Thousand Sunsets. South Brunswick. p. 202.
  9. Variety review Variety, retrieved 28 May 2007
  10. New York Times review The New York Times, retrieved 27 May 2007
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