Movie Diary 2/19/2018

The Long Memory (Robert Hamer, 1953). A film made just after Hamer’s impressive period, which included It Never Rains on Sunday and Kind Hearts and Coronets. It’s not up with those movies, but is exceptionally well-made, full of urban shadows and riverside mudflats. John Mills plays a man released from jail after 12 years of wrongful imprisonment; he now seeks the people who testified against him. The theme is intriguing even if the behavior doesn’t always match up with logic. His then-girlfriend (Elizabeth Sellars), after providing false testimony, married the police inspector (John McCullum), who has no idea of her perjury. So that will get interesting. There’s a subplot about Mills meeting a woman (Eva Bergh) who instantly falls in love with him despite his telling her to get lost so he can go about the business of taking his revenge. This part is very French, somehow, in its quicksilver passion and its doomy sympathy for people on the margins (except of course Mills isn’t going to summon up any Gallic tragic-acceptance-of-fate, because he’s John Mills). Another of Mills’ targets is a shady businessman (John Chandos), who appears to have a gay thing going on with his flunkie. Not top-tier by any standards, but consistently engaging, and worthy of slotting in the Brit-noir category.