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The Long Memory

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The Long Memory (1952)

Postby kingrat » November 12th, 2010, 6:37 pm

Has anyone else seen THE LONG MEMORY (1952), starring John Mills and directed by Robert Hamer? What do our other noir fans and mavens think? To me, this is a first-rate British noir. Mills plays Philip Davidson, a man who's served 12 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. When he's released, he's determined to have his revenge, which means pushing away other people. Most of the film was shot on location in the desolate marshes of northern Kent along the Thames estuary and in the backstreets of Gravesend (perfect name for a town in a film noir). The early scenes between Mills and a tinker who tries to befriend him, set on and around an abandoned boat, actually made me think a little bit of Samuel Beckett.

Recently I've enjoyed Mills in films like THIS HAPPY BREED and THE WAY TO THE STARS playing an English innocent, rather like the transatlantic version of Jimmy Stewart. This Mills performance is the equivalent of the Stewart roles in Anthony Mann westerns. The only other cast member I recognized was Thora Hird, superb in a supporting role as a wronged wife who doesn't behave the way you might expect. This subplot brings some welcome comic relief. Solid performances all around. There's a chilling moment early in the film where an old man says that Davidson is a young man, so what will 12-15 years in prison mean to him?

I've avoided discussing the plot, which has two major twists. There are some beautifully composed shots during the final showdown. The cinematographer, Harry Waxman, also did BRIGHTON ROCK. The director, Robert Hamer, is best known for KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, but his film IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY was apparently a big hit at the 2008 Brit Noir festival in New York.

Once again, an outstanding film that I had never even heard of before.

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Re: The Long Memory (1952)

Postby moira finnie » November 12th, 2010, 7:04 pm

I recorded The Long Memory (1952) and hope to get to it this weekend. I enjoy John Mills in the range of roles he played in the '40s and '50s and very early '60s, going from the heroic (Pip in Great Expectations) to the troubled (The October Man, Ice Cold in Alex) to a supporting character (The End of the Affair, Tiger Bay) with great ease. I am less fond of his later work. I have seen so few of Robert Hamer's films, I will try to post some impressions later, but your liking this movie makes me anticipate something really good. Thanks for the recommendation.
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The Long Memory

Postby » October 16th, 2011, 12:53 pm

It's not often I discover an old British film noir, but on UK digital they've been repeating a good thriller called The Long Memory. It's not one of the great John Mills most famous roles, but nonetheless entertaining for all that. Mills plays a man, who has served 12-yrs for a murder he didn't committ and is out for revenge. However, he discovers revenge isn't worth it, but the real murderer still trys to kill him anyway, making for a tense ending.

One of the things in the film that amused me was the sex or the lack of it. The police dectective on the trail (Googie Withers husband John McCallum), and his wife had 2 single beds. Even more interesting was that Mills discovered an ally in a girl, who was attracted to him. He was hiding in a sea side shack and the young lady all but through herself at him, yet they slept seperately. However, this was Britain in the early post war 1950s.

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Re: The Long Memory

Postby Vienna » November 18th, 2012, 12:36 pm

Nice to be reminded of this fine thriller, well written and cast. Good part for John Mills. I could see it easily translate to an American noir setting.I like Geoffrey Keen as the persistent journalist.

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Re: The Long Memory

Postby RedRiver » November 18th, 2012, 4:16 pm

I don't know this one. It does sound good.

12 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit

I have a feeling this happens a lot more than we know.

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