The Patricia Roc Filmography
So Well Remembered

Rank/RKO 1947 114 mins B&W

Directed by: Edward Dmytryk
Photography by: Freddie Young
Starring: John Mills, Martha Scott, Patricia Roc and Trevor Howard
Available on region free DVD (PAL) and VHS (£9.99 + £1.55 p&p) from
Hectic House Records.


About The Re-Release of this Film
"So Well Remembered" was originally shot at Denham Studios and on location in Macclesfield, Cheshire. When the film was completed it was premiered in Macclesfield in 1947 and director Edward Dmytryk presented a print of the film to Macclesfield Council. In 1973 the council found that the film had disappeared and a search was started to find what had become of it. It turned up in the US (as so many British films seem to these days) and the current owner was persuaded to sell it back to the UK last year. It has now been released on DVD and VHS Video by Hectic House based in Macclesfield. Rather surprisingly no other known print seems to be in existence making this possibly the last copy (unless of course YOU have one waiting to be found in your loft!).

A number of things should be remembered when considering this release. Firstly, this sepia toned 16mm print has definitely seen better days and in it's travels has somewhat deteriorated. So if you are expecting to see the kind of quality you might get from a pristine digitally remastered DVD of say "Casablanca" - you will be disappointed! The film has primarily been released as a rediscovered rarity for those who want to see nostalgic views of Macclesfield - or who perhaps were extras in the making of the film... (there are several scenes featuring children). Watching the film as a piece of cinema rather then as a nostalgic experience takes some determination due to the quality ... but don't be put off if you like this kind of melodrama or follow any of the stars in the film. Although a little effort is required it is quite watchable if you have a determination to do so. However, those who are hard of hearing may experience greater difficulty as the audio is not always as clear as might be and an annoying buzzing noise is present pretty much throughout. In general though, I found the quality improved as the film went on.

I reviewed the DVD version of the film. In my opinion a decision whether to purchase on VHS or DVD should be made on the basis of convenience rather then quality as the original material is not sufficiently high quality enough to show much of a difference between the two formats. The DVD however, is a proper DVD-ROM pressed from a glass master, not a cheap DVD-R or similar created in a home PC.

As regards Patricia Roc's part in it (after all the part we are mainly interested in) she appears throughout the latter half of the film being absent from the first half altogether. Rather unusual since she is credited above Trevor Howard in the cast list - yet Trevor has a much larger part and is in the film throughout. One assumes this was because she was the bigger star at the time so despite having a smaller role she merited higher billing... Anyway, more on Pat's role in the comments section below... but now onto the plot.


The Plot
George Boswell (John Mills), the mayor of Browdley, a Lancashire mill town, reminisces his past life experiences as the second world war ends. He'd started out back in 1919 as a town councillor and activist for the working people of the town. He knew how bad things could be having been raised from the slums himself. Many of the townsfolk blame John Channing (Frederick Leister) the owner of the Channing cotton mills for their troubles. So when his daughter Olivia Channing (Martha Scott) applies for a job at the town library many oppose her being appointed. But George takes it upon himself to see that the best person gets the job and in his opinion that is Olivia Channing. After all she should not be made to pay for the sins of her father he argues.

Later Olivia visits him to thank him for his words on her behalf and soon a romance develops which eventually leads to marriage. However, George does not know that he is being manipulated. The Channing estate is running out of money and Olivia has plans. Soon Olivia has him talking with important people in parliament and his career as a politician seems certain and successful. However, when he is tricked into opposing the demolition of unsanitary housing which leads to an outbreak of diphtheria he soon rejects the path Olivia has been making for him. Shortly afterwards, due to Olivia's negligence in not being able to face a vaccination clinic with the working classes, their son dies. With her son gone and George choosing work for the betterment of the working population over falling in with her designs for making them both rich, she decides to leave him and find her fortune elsewhere.

The action then shifts to the latter years of the second world war. George is somewhat older and spending much time with his friend Dr. Whiteside (Trevor Howard) and a young girl for whom the Doctor is guardian Julie Morgan (Patricia Roc). One day a drunk RAF man appears and on finding out who George is has an altercation with him. It turns out he is Charles Winslow (Richard Carlson) - the son of Olivia Channing by her second husband. It seems Olivia is coming back to town and taking control of the cotton mills again. Her second husband drank himself into the grave and left her a substantial fortune with which she intends to reclaim all that was lost in the past.

After this initial bad start George realises that Charles is actually not a bad sort and a relationship develops between Charles and Julie. But then he is sent to fight in the war and comes back with his face badly scarred. Olivia (his mother) uses this to manipulate him closer to herself by making him think the scarring is so bad that nobody will want to be with him or treat him as a normal person again. Olivia has clearly lived her life selfishly and now all she has left, despite her money, is her son and she is not about to let go. So this then turns into a fight between her and Julie for control of her son. He wants to marry Julie but feels unable to due to the scarring of his face which his mother has made him believe is much worse then it really is.

The final showdown occurs when Julie returns home crying. When George and Doctor Whiteside ask her what's wrong they find out that Olivia has removed her son from the hospital. She has him at her home and is forbidding any visitors and keeping him to herself. Meanwhile he is drinking himself silly, obsessed with his scarring. The Doctor then decides to fill in George on some of the scheming things Olivia has done over the years. Such things such as arranging the murder of her father (to make it seem as if it were an accident). George, shocked to hear about the levels to which she'd stooped to satisfy her selfishness decides to take action and goes to see Charles and calling him a coward makes him break away from his mother and marry Julie.

Olivia confronts George demanding to know where her son is. He tells her all the things he should've said in the past finishing with the fact that her son has married Julie and there's nothing she can do about it.

She leaves having lost everything - even her sonů George wanders out into the celebrations marking the end of the war and the film ends where it beganů

Above: Optimized de-sepia toned frame grabs from the DVD. These are NOT representative of quality
- see below for unoptimized grabs.


Commentry
This is a fairly standard melodrama of the type common in the 1940s and from the pen of James Hilton ("Random Harvest" 1942, "Mrs Miniver" 1942 and the screenplay for "Camille" 1936 among others). Comparisons come to mind with "The Stars Look Down", the Carol Reed movie from 1940 with Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood. However, the latter is probably the better film.

Pat's contribution starts one hour in and she certainly seems to attempt to make the most of the smaller part she's been given. However, in terms of her career this film did nothing. Although she puts in a good performance the material is not outstanding enough to make much impact.

Acting, all round is professional with fine performances from John Mill's and Trevor Howard.... One feel's however, that the direction for Martha Scott's character (Olivia) was somewhat confused. The suspicion is that they weren't quite sure as to how sympathetically or not to treat her character. On the one hand the story suggests that she is indeed a nasty, manipulative piece of work. But then at other times there seems to be some pulling back of this and almost a sympathy for her in the sense of she could do nothing else due to her background and it's not ALL her fault. The problem with this is it creates confusion around her character and consequently makes her part weaker. Nevertheless she attempts to make the best of it and as with the other actors generally puts in a good show.

The director Edward Dmytryk is well known for his film noir work ("Crossfire" 1947, "Obsession" 1949 and the excellent but much neglected "The Sniper" 1952). This film does not come anywhere near the standard of these others but this is largely due to the material he is working with in terms of the story. However, the direction is still very good and there are nice touches to the cinamatography. For example there is a nice pan from George giving his speeches about how profit should not be at the expense of the children of the town while the camera moves up and back through a window revealing a room where Doctor Whiteside is seeing to a child dying from diphtheria. The feeling is that had the character of Martha Scott (Olivia) been allowed to be treated less sympathetically this could've turned into a nice film noir - however, since this doesn't happen the film lacks the tension and the claustrophobia a film noir should have and remains instead a fairly standard 1940s British melodrama with class issues thrown in on top.

One point of note - the re-release of this film has a few seconds of link missing between the reels that marked the end of the 1919 segment of the film and the start of the second world war segment. This can be a bit confusing at first. This version fades to black and then restarts some years later! However, minimal plot content is lost - simply a "some years later" segment of narration. Considering none of this footage is now available in any alternative formats, a small price to pay perhaps compared to having nothing - though of course completeness would have always been preferable.


Conclusion
It's nice that this film has been re-discovered and re-released for those who wish to see it. However, although highly enjoyable it is not a masterpiece. Therefore a decision as to whether to see it or not should be based on:

  • Whether you like this kind of melodrama
  • If you follow the films of any of the cast or the director
  • If you were IN the film (as an extra)
  • If you wish to see old Macclesfield as it used to be
  • With this in mind do not expect a masterpiece and do allow for the quality being less then optimal and you will most likely have an enjoyable couple of hours with it!


    Quality
    As a summary on this issue - I would grade the audio and video as perhaps 2 out of 5. It's listenable (just) and watchable but only with some effort and with some skips and drops in sound (which improve as the film progresses). Again it must be remembered that this is the only remaining print in existence (to my knowledge) and I think a lot can be forgiven due to ths fact. One should also note that the frame grabs alongside the plot synopsis above have been enhanced. So as not to give the wrong impression please view the strip below which is unenhanced and remains in sepia as is the original. Note that if you do not like sepia you can always turn the color down on your TV to get black and white! If you click on the strip below a full size sample frame is included...



    Available from Hectic House Records
    on region free DVD (PAL) and VHS (£9.99 + £1.55 p&p).

    My thanks to Hectic House Records who kindly supplied a copy of the film for this review.



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    Text © copyright 2004 H Jaremko
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