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 by||Herbert Wilcox|
|Produced by||Herbert Wilcox|
|Written by||Nicholas Phipps|
|Based on||Come Out of the Kitchen|
by Alice Duer Miller
|Distributed by||British Lion Film Corporation|
|17 March 1948|
|Box office||£358,788 (UK)|
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.
- Anna Neagle - Judy, niece and secretary to Mr Howard
- Michael Wilding - "Richard"
- Tom Walls - Joshua Howard, Judy's wealthy uncle
- Peter Graves as Basil Maitland, an actor and suitor to Judy
- Marjorie Fielding - Mildred Howard, Judy's mother
- Nigel Patrick - Mr Bacon, an 'art-dealer' (con-man)
- G. H. Mulcaster - Perkins, the butler
- Josephine Fitzgerald - Mrs Kate O'Malley, the cook
- Lana Morris - Rosie, the maid
- Nicholas Phipps - George, The Marquess of Borechester and Richard's elder brother (Phipps also wrote the screenplay)
- Catherine Paul - The Marchioness of Borechester and George & Richard's mother
Released two years after the peak year for cinema attendances in the United Kingdom, it nevertheless was substantially more successful than other contemporary releases, becoming the most successful film release of 1948 in the United Kingdom.
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. Wilcox claims the film earned £1,600,000 at the British box office.
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.
- Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000
- BFI Releases list of the top 100 most-seen films Reel Classics, retrieved 28 May 2007
- "THE STARRY WAY". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 8 January 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32 no. 3. p. 258.
- Screenonline, Spring in Park Lane BFI Screenonline, retrieved 27 May 2007
- Gone With The Wind tops the list of 100 most-watched films of all time Yorkshire Post, retrieved 28 May 2007
- The Ultimate Film: Researching the Chart Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine IFF, retrieved 28 May 2007
- Wilcox, Herbert (1967). Twenty Five Thousand Sunsets. South Brunswick. p. 202.
- Variety review Variety, retrieved 28 May 2007
- New York Times review The New York Times, retrieved 27 May 2007