The Mudlark DVD
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Directed by Jean Negulesco
Produced in 1950
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Irene Dunne stars as the reclusive Queen Victoria and Alec Guinness Disraeli in this charming drama - but it's Andrew Ray's young rag-picker who walks off with the film, says Alex Davidson.
The Mudlark is a joyful curio that really deserves to be better known. It is a fictional telling of an 1838 incident when a boy managed to infiltrate Buckingham Palace - in the film, set in 1875, the lad accesses Windsor Castle, where his discovery threatens to trigger a national incident. Queen Victoria, in mourning for Albert and determined to stay out of the public eye, uses the intrusion as evidence that assassins are on the loose. Disraeli, anxious that the Queen should not lose her public support, claims the child, like the British people, is desperate for the return of a maternal figure to lead Britain.
Director Jean Negulesco creates a haunting view of London - the opening tracking shot along the Thames mudflats, where children ('mudlarks') scavenge for washed-up trinkets, makes clear the appalling discrepancy between the rich and poor in Victorian England. Fog and shadows evoke a sinister ghost city in need of its leader - a stark contrast to the warmth and light of Windsor Castle. Despite the mild critique of Victoria's decision to withdraw from public life, The Mudlark was chosen as the Royal Performance Film in 1950.
It's great fun seeing stars taking on British icons - Alec Guinness is terrific as the prime minister, delivering a rousing one-take speech towards the film's end. The scenes between Disraeli and Victoria, in which both use their wits to try and turn the discovery of the urchin to their advantage, have real spark. Finlay Currie creates a formidable John Brown and Hollywood actress Irene Dunne makes for a regal and touching Victoria. More imposing than Judi Dench's later interpretation of the role, this Victoria is a shrewd and occasionally cruel character consumed by self-pity, yet even in her profound grief Dunne lets us see her humanity and charitable nature. But it's Andrew Ray, in his film debut, who walks off with the film. A natural comic, the young child is likeable and sympathetic throughout, and the film deservedly launched his successful acting career. As a child, he would enjoy success in The Yellow Balloon and Serious Charge.
Alex Davidson on 29th May 2012
Author of 232 reviews
Alec Guinness and Irene Dunne star in this thoroughly enchanting 1950 British drama directed by Jean Negulesco (Three Coins In The Fountain, How To Marry A Millionaire).
A little orphan boy (Andrew Ray) who survives by scavenging on the River Thames, decides to walk to Windsor Castle to see Queen Victoria (Irene Dunne). For many years, Queen Victoria has shut herself away in the castle, in mourning for her beloved husband Albert – and England is suffering.
Despite the best advice of Prime Minister Disraeli (Alec Guinness) and her close friend John Brown (Finlay Currie), the queen refuses to return to her people. Can one small and desperately lonely child change her heart when the highest in the land have failed?
Publisher: Odeon Entertainment
Length: 95 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 1st June 2012
Cat No: ODNF364
- Digitally restored and remastered
- Booklet Notes
- Best of British Trailers.