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Quiet Wedding

Posted by martinteller on March 1, 2015

When Janet Royd (Margaret Lockwood) accepts Dallas Chaytor’s (Derek Farr) proposal, she hopes for a simple, quiet wedding.  But it quickly grows out of her control as everyone makes a tremendous fuss over the event, without any concern for her wishes or feelings.  Exacerbating matters is the flurry of activity in the Royd home.  While father Arthur (A.E. Matthews) seems indifferent, mother Mildred (Marjorie Fielding) is a whirlwind.  Janet’s brother John (David Tomlinson) arrives with Flower Lisle (Peggy Ashcroft), the eccentric extrovert that he’s “practically engaged” to… though she seems more intrigued by their brother Denys (Sydney King).  Sister Marcia (Margaretta Scott) storms in without husband Jim (Michael Shepley), full of petty complaints and proclaiming that marriage is hell.  Aunts Mary (Athene Seyler) and Florence (Jean Cadell) are there, taking up additional space.  And no one even seems aware that Dallas’s father (Frank Cellier) is coming.  As the chaos swirls around Janet, her nerves get rattled and she begins to have second thoughts.

One of ten collaborations between screenwriter Terence Rattigan and Anthony Asquith.  It’s an amusing — though never laugh-out-loud funny — comedy of errors and manners.  The script features plenty of clever banter, taking some subplot detours but never straying far from the central story.  The cast is loaded with endearing or quirky characters, particularly Lockwood, Seyler and Ashcroft.  The movie does sometimes feel a bit old-fashioned, with a little too much hand-wringing over even the thought of sex before marriage, or offending Mildred’s delicate sensibilities.  But hey, it’s British and it’s 1941, you’ve got to expect some stuffiness.

There is a scene where Dallas is confronted by a policeman and treats him almost like a servant.  I can’t tell if this encounter and the ensuing events were meant to mock how clueless the privileged class is, or how backwards and ignorant the non-privileged are.  I’d like to think the former, but given how much the film seems to be on Dallas’s side, I fear the latter.  But besides this section, the movie is often charming and has a couple of genuinely sweet moments.  Rating: Good (77)


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