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  Into the Blue Shall We Gather At The River?
Year: 1950
Director: Herbert Wilcox
Stars: Michael Wilding, Odile Versois, Jack Hulbert, Constance Cummings, Edward Rigby
Genre: Comedy, Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: When summertime arrives, people's thoughts turn to holidays, and in Britain that can mean a number of options, such as the crowded beaches at Blackpool, the exertion of a holiday camp, or the pouring rain of the caravan trip, but for boat's captain Bill (Edward Rigby), his passion is the fishing vacation where he can sit on the bank at peace with the world and catch a few, which he always throws back. On the other hand, some of the Brits can afford to go farther afield, and so it was with the Fergusons, John (Jack Hulbert) and Kate (Constance Cummings), a middle-aged couple taking advantage of their relatively well off situation to hire Bill's boat and head off to Norway to meet John's relations...

Before the package holiday changed the way the British holidayed forever, most were content to do all of the above as their break from it all, as the Fergusons' excursion was beyond the reach of their pockets, leaving Into the Blue as an exotic portrait of what could happen should most of the population realise their dreams and be able to afford a jaunt to the Continent. Not that we ever reach Norway here, as France proved more in the realm of the production's budget, though nevertheless location shooting for a British movie across the Channel would not have come cheap, and there were actual shots of the cast out on their converted Naval vessel as well.

Therefore just as a visit to the local fleapit would offer glimpses of places the public would never get to see, not just the United States but around the globe to other locations as well, this was one of those that offered a chance to see somewhere foreign, with Rouen and Paris here, in addition to French canals and rivers as the plot draws on, that most would not otherwise have enjoyed outside of the context of the ex-soldiers who had served there during the Second World War, and didn't think they would ever be back. That plot was wrapped up in what appears to be an outright rogue who has stowed away in the dinghy pulled behind the Fergusons' personal pleasure cruise, and proves difficult to get rid of.

He was one Nick Foster, played by heartthrob of the day Michael Wilding who never quite made the front rank but was in very successful films when paired with Anna Neagle, one of the biggest stars Britain ever created though she's rather forgotten now. In this case it seems she and her producer/director husband Herbert Wilcox were doing him a favour by crafting a vehicle tailor made for his talents, all he need do was be dashing, a little louche perhaps, but ideal romantic partnership for the leading lady. No, Nick did not take Kate away from John, audiences would never stand for that, he had another actress to captivate, and she was playing the mate Jackie. Odile Versois was that actress, part of an artistic dynasty who was unfortunately never blessed with good health.

This did make her rather delicate persona winning when it came to wistful characters like the one essayed here, but the main issue you may have with Into the Blue would be that if it was a comedy, as it appears to be, it wasn't very funny, and that was down to the romance, specifically in the male half. Nick was a bit too keen to lead the other, more innocent characters astray, sure we find out he's an all right kind of guy eventually, but for too long he's a pain in the way he corrupts his reluctant hosts who keep finding excuses - provided by Nick - to have him stay with them on the boat. Bill the skipper is having none of this, but John is very easily led (Hulbert having perfected his breezy readings many years before, and this role would be no surprise to his followers), so even when he thinks Nick is on the run away from a murder charge (he's really an inadvertent smuggler of watches) he can be bent to the stowaway's will. Kate remained a voice of sanity, but nobody listened to her, leaving a movie that didn't quite settle down quickly enough, agreeable as it eventually was. Music by Mischa Spoliansky.

[This is released as part of Network's British Film collection. No extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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