An hilarious film showing up the hypocrisies of the wealthy, the poor, the educated ("you can't say anything against Greek"), the religious, the women, the men, marriage, and the charitable. Its enjoyable because it works well as a film.
A nearly perfect film.
Outstanding acting: every tiny facial tick or movement of arms adds to the character and displays their feelings and emotions. Interactions are perfectly timed and presented to create an impression of reality (of course we know this is not reality but a film, so the acting must be more than real to succeed) .
Striking sets: Dour tones of black & white shade the early sets of down-and-out Limehouse. This is contrasted by gleaming whites and solid blacks of the futuristic mattes and rear projections of the later part of the film. Expectations are high and not disappointed with a crew including names like Vincent Korda, production design (The Third Man, The Thief of Bagdad, etc), John Bryan, art direction (Pygmalion, Great Expectations, etc), Jack Clayton assistant director (Room at the Top, The Pumpkin Eater, etc), Ronald Neame's cinematography (Blithe Spirit, One of Our Aircraft is Missing, etc) and even editing by David Lean.
Brilliant lighting: the lighting of the faces and sets heightens the emotions and intellect. When Robert Newton's Bill Walker first enters the story he kicks over a fence and strides across a cluttered yard. His head and shoulders lined with a nimbus of light as if he is some lost angel recently cast out of heaven. Later, Barbara walks forlornly to the river's edge. She is shrouded in shadows, but light (apparently) reflected from the water moves across her face and eyes signaling what she may be contemplating.
Sublime writing: each of the characters, no matter how small, is important to the story. Each speaks with voice that is true to the character and yet represents an aspect of the author's theme. Not one word is wasted.
Only the happy socialist worker's March of Humanity to a Better Future ending mars the experience. But then, much of this is probably due to seeing the film with 21st century eyes and besides, to expect a film over which GBS had complete control of the story to end any other way would be like expecting no one to die in a Roger Corman film.
Wonderful cast, script and sets. The last 15 minutes were smarmy and full of propaganda for that time, but the rest of the movie more than made up for it.
George Bernard Shaw's writing is exquisite.
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