Sunday, 16 March 2014

21 Days (1940)
Oh dear! Where do I start?
It's the story of Larry (Laurence Olivier) and his girlfriend Wanda (Vivien Leigh) whose affair is interrupted by the arrival of her estranged husband (Esme Percy). A fight ensues and the husband dies. Rather than own up to what was, after all, an accident, Larry hides the body. Things go wrong for him when another man (hay Petrie) is accused of the crime. Will the man be convicted? Will Larry own up to the crime? Will Laurence Olivier ever learn to act? 
Does the viewer care? 
The fact that 21 Days was filmed in 1937, yet only released in 1940, might give you some indication of this film's merits. Even as I read the credits, and saw that it was directed by Basil Dean and based on a play by John  Galsworthy (The First and the Last), my heart sank: These were the duo responsible for Escape - a truly dreadful film.
There was certainly a good reason that it spent three years on the shelf. And to good reasons it was eventually resurrected: Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.
Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh
In 1937 they were just embarking on their romance, and neither as a couple or individually were they a big enough story to warrant releasing this film. By 1940 they were huge stars, and one of cinema's golden couples. This is true, but the film canisters might have been best left on the shelf. I doubt if either of them were eager for this to be shown in public.
So, can I say something good about 21 Days?
I'll do my best. It certainly won't be about the script, or Larry's dreadful hammy acting style.
So here goes:
I do like Larry's jacket. It's a belt-back, fluffy, flecked-wool number. At times it appears a bit too big for him, but it's certainly a nice one:

Collectors of vintage clothing would certainly be excited to find one of those!
Also appearing:
Leslie Banks

Esme Percy

Francis L. Sullivan

Hay Petrie

Meinhart Maur

Robert Newton (at his most restrained)
And here's a screen-grab of my favourite moment in the film:
That's all folks!

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