With Rememberence Sunday in the UK looming I decided as a tribute to those who died and were wounded in war to watch Nurse Edith Cavell. It's on you tube in full, but for some reason is regarded unsuitable for anyone under age.
I was surprised to discover the film was made in Hollywood, given the star of the film is British actress Anna Neagle and her husband Herbert Wilcox the director. I've always found it astonishing that Anna Neagle is not better known in America, given her stature in the 30s and 40s within the British Film Industry. Though having watched Nurse Edith Cavell, I can see how it was made in Hollywood, because Anna has an impressive American supporting cast under her. Edith Cavell ran a nursing home in Belgium in 1914/15, while hiding potential prisoner of war in her cellar, because she knew the German's would have them shot. 2 of her helpers were Edna May Oliver as a Contess and Zasu Pitts. George Sanders played the German Officer out to get her and Henry Brandon was his undercover agent posing as a Frenchman hiding in her cellar. H. B Warner played an American diplomat, frantically trying to save her life after he finds out Edith's under a sentence of death, but it turns out to be a futile gesture, as she's killed by a firing squad almost with warning. Funilly enough both Edna May Oliver and Zasu Pitt's characters survive the war.
One of the rare amusing scenes in the film is when Neagle, May Oliver and Pitts are, sitting, planning the escape of the prisoners back to Allied lines, while Zasu is doing her knitting.
I don't think it was Anna's best performance, but I think there's a reason for that. She played Edith with a British stiff upper lip almost right through the film. She did wilt a little after Sanders warned her anyone caught hiding prisoners would feel the full force of German law. Then when informed of her execution by Sanders her mouth quivered a little. Thereby, if not her best performance, it's still an inspiring one
I'm going to watch this one when I get time, Stuart. With that cast, it's most definitely my cup of tea. I've always liked Neagle in Irene which is the only film of hers shown much here. Forever and a Day sounds good too, maybe I can find it on youtube as well. I love house movies.
I was just thinking Wendy that before WW2 Neagle, Margaret Lockwood, Richard Greene, David Niven and the Olivier's were in America. Then they all came home when war was declared. If anything it hepled Niven's career as he got to make British movies like The Way Ahead and First Of The Few, inbetween fighting battles/ In Contrast Greene never recovered his international status, but had a 50s tv hit playing 'Robin Hood' In the case of Neagle and Lockwood, perhaps internationaly their careers suffered, but they still did alright during the war, Neagle playing avaitor Amy Johnson in They Flew Alone, Lockwood with The Wicked Lady and The Man In Grey
I had no idea that Lockwood had been to America, Stuart. I had read somewhere that Neagle, try as she might just didn't translate well to American audiences, despite a lot of talent. Of course, Niven was already working steadily here, and I think he had quite a wonderful career between the two countries, really coming into his own in the 40's and 50's as an international star.
Hey, Stuart! Thanks so much for the info about the Cavell movie. I like Anna Neagle okay, but I really want to watch this movie because:
1.) We had a book from a series called "You Are There" published for kids in the '50s and '60s and The Story of Nurse Edith Cavell was one of our faves, providing material for book reports for all of us in elementary school. I have been fascinated by WWI stories ever since. 2.) There is no way that ANY movie that features Edna May Oliver, Zasu Pitts, May Robson, and George Sanders can be one I'd want to miss!
Did you have these orange bound biographies in your school? We had a set at my first school that must have extended the entire circumference of our school library. I remember the first one I read was Virginia Dare, and after reading it I was off and running like a little addict through the entire series. The stories of Edith Cavell and Florence Nightingale at Balaclava were very inspiring, though maybe the Edith Cavell book I read was this one?
I distinctly remember the story of Annie Oakley, who at age 60 or so lost her hearing for some months. One day she was sitting in her bathtub, and her ear started buzzing and a beetle fell out! Things like that really stick with an impressionable grade schooler!