Saturday 7 March 2015

Catching Up (3) - High Tide at Noon (Philip Leacock, UK,1956)

High Tide at Noon (Philip Leacock, UK, 1956, A Julian Wintle Production, 100 minutes)
So what does the title mean? There is nothing here at all about tides or any importance of noon throughout the narrative. Perhaps there was some plot device that made sense of the title in the original novel from which the film is adapted but I don't think I'll ever check that out. High Tide at Noon is, after The Kidnappers, the second Philip Leacock movie set in Nova Scotia. Exteriors were filmed there but most of it was shot on the Pinewood backlot with a lot of back projection. The first title that comes up, a little Rank trope of the time, is "A British Film".

The two leads are played by little known Americans Betta St John (Joanna) and William Sylvester (Alec) and all the others are Brits. They all try and talk in what passes for mid-Atlantic accents though no one as far as I could decipher pronounced the word "out" as "oat", the simplest linguistic characteristic that gives a Canadian touch. Betta plays Joanna and she returns to a deserted and decrepit island, clearly an abandoned fishing community. She begins an explore and, cued by some music on the soundtrack, goes into a long flashback.

So, its five years ago and fresh-f-aced and beaming Joanna comes home from school and vows never to leave the island. Her father, a dour Alexander Knox is the unofficial head of the island but like most has fallen on hard times. The lobster catch is diminishing and the young are leaving. Joe is immediately importuned by family nemesis Simon, a brooding Patrick McGoohan but she fights him off. Its not to be the end of things. Episodes follow - a brother gets his girl friend pregnant, Alec arrives and sweeps Jo off her feet but the marriage sours as he gambles away their savings to Simon. Fortunately the bad marriage ends quickly when Alec drowns. The community abandons the place and it falls into disrepair until Jo returns and is reunited with the one man who always wanted her and waited, Nils (Michael Craig), another lobster fisherman who is last man standing and announces "The lobsters are back!" as they sweep into each other's arms. Hmmmm.

A check on Leacocok's filmography is interesting. His last feature was Adam's Woman (1970). It was made in Australia. After that he picked up his life in the US and had a comfortable life directing episodes of many of the successful network TV series, dozens of them.

(Long, long ago I set out to write a short note on all of the J Arthur Rank films screened late night on the ABC for several decades. Progress has been slow but work has resumed. The earlier ones are here

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.