Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Midshipman Easy (1935)

HMS Harpy
Carol Reed was, without doubt, one of the greats of British cinema and therefore one feels that there should be something positive to say about this, his first credited outing as a director.
Note my use of the word 'should'.
Truth be told, I'm not so sure. Adapted from a book by famed nautical author Captain Marryat, it's the story of rebellious teenager who goes to sea as a midshipman on a British warship. Unable to  curb his wayward ways he gets into all manner of scrapes: he neglects his duties and, ignoring orders, captures a Spanish merchant ship; goes ashore in Sicily, captures a legendary bandit, falls in love, then has to rescue his girlfriend from the clutches of the bandit after he escapes. All 'boys own' adventure story stuff.
But there's one problem: at the heart of the film is a love story between Midshipman Easy and the Spanish girl  Donna Agnes. Now, I have no problem with a bit of romance in the midst of an action story. Especially when the female in question is the rather lovely Margaret Lockwood ...
Margaret Lockwood
...aged 18, in only her fifth screen  appearance. I don't even mind that the lovers are a mismatched pair ...
... But where I have a problem is her love interest: a certain fifteen year old Hughie Green:
Hughie Green
Yes, that's right: Hughie Green. And (those of you born before 1970 will understand) I mean that most sincerely folks! Hughie, the annoying presenter of Opportunity Knocks ... the Simon Cowell of the 1970s ... the father of Paula Yates. I could go on.

Yes, that Hughie Green - as Margaret Lockwood's boyfriend! My god, life really isn't fair.
Green & Lockwood

Green & Lockwood

Green & Lockwood

It didn't spoil the film, but I'll say it one more time: Hughie Green and Margaret Lockwood!!!
So what can I say on a positive point:
The story presents a few elements of nautical life, such as the violence of life at sea ...

... and seasickness ...
Robert Adams & Hughie Green
... we get to see Margaret Lockwood playing the guitar ...
Margaret Lockwood
... we get to see Hughie Green in drag ...
Hughie Green
... we get to laugh at the bandit, Don Silvio, as he protests that his portrait on the reward poster doesn't does his moustache justice ...
Dennis Wyndham
... but most rewarding of all: we get to see Hughie Green kneed in the groin!
Hughie Green & Dennis Wyndham

Hughie Green
I think I spent most of the 1970s wanting to do that - or at least see someone else doing it. Hughie, you got kneed in the nuts and spent your life getting your revenge by giving us the cultural giants of Peters & Lee, Paul Daniels, Bonnie Langford, Bobby Crush and Lena Zavaroni .... thanks mate!
On a positive point, it is available in a box set featuring The Big Blockade, The Four Just Men and Brief Ecstasy ... all of which are more than worth watching:

So buy the DVD, you'll enjoy the other films, just don't expect to be thrilled by Midshipman Easy.
Oh, and just in case you missed it ... Hughie Green is the romantic lead!!!!
Hughie Green

1 comment:

  1. Now that we have Talking Pictures on Freeview TV, Hughes Green - aka Hughie - continues to surprise us!