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It's A Great Day/The Girl Who Couldn't Quite [DVD]

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Elizabeth Henson plays the role of Ruth, the woman who finds it hard to smile, while Bill Owen (Compo in Last of the Summer Wine) is Tim, the man who brought her happiness.

This charming and unsophisticated comedy is a satire on the modern psychological drama. Instead of portraying the hysterical patient under the psychiatrist’s spell, it tells the story of a girl, unable to laugh, who is cured by the sight of a tramp with strange ideas about helping the poor by giving them other people’s property. Perhaps the movie would have benefited better by having more of a tense atmosphere, but bar this, it’s one enjoyable film to view. Overall, there is enough happening to make The Girl Who Couldn’t Quite a decent movie to watch, if there isn’t anything that stands out. Adapted from a play by Leo Marks, the story concerns a girl’s obliviousness causes her to forget about the man who had brought her so much happiness in her life.The title of the play on which the film is based arises form a conversation Leo Marks had with Noor Inayat Khan GC, who had been a British resistance agent in France in World War 2. [3]

It must be a trifle disconcerting for the rest of the cast, but such unusual informality was great fun for everyone else.

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With all the sang-froid of the practiced comedian he turned his lapses of memory into the high-spots of the evening. What audience could fail to respond to the lovable vagrant who confides across the footlights “Just a minute, I’ve forgotten me words”, and then appeals loudly to the prompter for help?

The Girl Who Couldn't Quite is a 1950 British drama film directed by Norman Lee and starring Bill Owen, Elizabeth Henson and Iris Hoey. [2] It is based on the 1947 stage play of the same name by Leo Marks. Norman Lee directs this British drama about a woman who hasn’t smiled since she was a little girl. But with the friendship of a tramp she smiles again. The direction from Lee is good because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a good effect throughout, while the script is written to a decent standard by the director and Majorie Deans as they make the film good to follow. Excellent support was given by Edwin Tupper, Godfrey Evans and Ross Workman, and the play was produced by Betty Carpenter. Sylvia Sartin, Eileen Turley and Betty Gedge all of about the same age, had the extreme difficult task of playing daughter, mother, and grandmother. Sylvia Sartin, as the girl who couldn’t quite, certainly did not deserve this title with respect to her acting abilities, which left little to be desired. Eileen Turley looked a little young for her mother, but her performance was very competent. Betty Gedge, as the grandmother, gave a polished and convincing performance.

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Desmond, who lives in the Old Village, Portslade, had never been on a stage before and, what is more, had never been to a theatre, but his complete unconcern gave no hint of nervousness. As the philosophical tramp he had very little need for make-up. Tall, with shoulder-length hair and fiery red beard and moustache, it was simple matter to add the tattered garments suitable for a ‘Knight of the Road’. Think of Chaplin's City Lights (1931), or Lewis Milestone's Hallelujah, I'm A Bum (1933) -- the latter a vehicle for Al Jolson and, in effect, his "answer" film to City Lights -- recast in the era of psychological awareness and you'll be able to wrap your mind around The Girl Who Couldn't Quite. Whether you'll think the latter activity worth doing is another issue. Godfrey Evans, as Sir John, and Edwin Tupper, as Paul Evans, also new to the stage, did not do quite as well as Desmond Tyler, but with a little more strength in delivery they would have carried their not too difficult parts well. Ross Workman would also have done better in a minor part if he had shown a little more power.

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