Last of the Blonde Bombshells DVD
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Directed by Gillies MacKinnon
Produced in 2000
Main Language - ENGLISH
Countries & Regions - British Film
The success of Mrs Henderson Presents and the presence of Judi Dench has doubtlessly prompted the release of this HBO/BBC collaboration, which trades in the same nostalgia for the lost swing innocence of wartime Britain. The films are staged with the effortless charm that British middlebrow movie-making has possessed since the 1930s, when Alexander Korda decided that the industry's best hope of turning a profit was to appeal to an American market addicted to our old country quaintness.
The performances are impeccable, with Dench twinkling with late-life vigour as the grieving grandmother who decides to reunite the dance band that provided the happiest days of her life. However, it proves to be a tricky mission, as Billie Whitelaw is in jail, June Whitfield plays her trombone solely for the Salvation Army, Olympia Dukakis has become a bibulous Scottish widow in a remote castle, Leslie Caron can't be found, and Joan Sims and Cleo Laine are reluctant to team up again with Ian Holm, their mutual ex-husband who spent the war playing drums in Some Like It Hot drag to avoid conscription.
Each member of the ensemble sketches out her caricature with genial precision, but such clichés wholly suit the gentle drama, which is buoyed by a spirited soundtrack that will have you digging out Glenn Miller albums. However, the picture belongs to the sax-playing Dench and the irrepressible Holm, whose flirtation is made all the more delightful by the fact that she knows what a rascal he is and indulges him anyway.
As suits the tone of the film and Alan Plater's script, the band’s reunion for a dance at the school of Dench's sparky grand-daughter is low-key, which makes the finale a cosy affair. Director Gillies Mackinnon knows his audience and trusts his cast. It's a shame that other veteran performers aren't given the chance more often to show that while looks and celebrity may be temporary, acting class is permanent.
David Parkinson on 18th December 2006
Author of 191 reviews
Originally produced for HBO, this nostalgic comedy about the reunion of a wartime female dance band stars Judi Dench and Ian Holm and has a marvellous supporting cast of British acting talent.
Publisher: Universal Pictures
Length: 84 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.78
Cat No: 8246167
Format: DVD Colour
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