We start 2017 on the SECOND Sunday (8th) of January with a British portmanteau film comprising four interlinked stories These are based on an idea from Terence Rattigan and a collaboration with writers Rodney Ackland and Anatole de Grunwald.
Its variety of genres (comedy, crime thriller, social drama) comprise stories behind the making of a dress, a veil, some pearls and a bouquet of flowers – all of which are purchased in London’s fashionable Bond Street.
Such ‘portmanteau’ films had become quite popular in these days before TV – especially since Tales of Manhattan (1942) which had boasted a cast that included Edward G. Robinson. While that film linked its stories by following a formal evening suit, Bond Street (though unable to match such a stella cast) is entertaining nevertheless, with solid performances from a stream of famous British character actors of the time, some credited but many not.
Undoubtedly dated, the film is also a sort of time capsule with some fascinating location shots providing a glimpse of the fashionable centre of London at the time (almost unrecognisable today). Though made soon after after the war, Bond Street at this time still retained a Victorian sense of sophistication.
Bond Street has a patina of nostalgia and a scene in a posh restaurant provides an amusing impression of post-war rationing that was clearly still in force, since there are only fish cakes on the menu!
The first tale is set behind the scenes in an up-market fashion house (above and right). A working class seamstress needs an hour off work to visit her pregnant daughter in hospital but, thanks to the needs of an upper class customer, is treated poorly by her employer. Her fellow workers show their solidarity by staying late to help her out.
In the second episode a robbery leads to murder and the murderer hides out in the flat of one of the workers. The third episode is set in a mending shop where a nasty character who sponges off his wife decides to up his game and indulge in blackmail. The fourth episode provides a comic finale about a couple about to get married when a former flame from Denmark arrives to stay for good.
The character actors who appear in Bond Street include Jean Kent (1921 – 2013), Hazel Court (1926 – 2008) Kathleen Harrison (1892 – 1995), Derek Farr (1912 – 1986), Robert Flemyng (1912 – 1995) on right of the picture at left, Kenneth Griffith (1921 – 2006) and Roland Young (1887 – 1953), also in picture at left.
While these names may not be familiar to you, many of their faces will ring a bell for they became familiar faces in film and TV in the 1960s and 70s. Watch out also for an uncredited Wilfred Hyde-White (1903 – 1991) and Ian Carmichael (1920 -2010).