A reject worth waiting for
"THE Last Days of Dolwyn," which Australian exhibitors have apparently decided is box office poison, is a film for the discriminating patron to see and appreciate.
It's a couple of years
since I began inquiring about this Anatole de Grunwald production, written and directed by Emlyn Williams and co- starring Williams and Dame Edith Evans, Bri- tain's finest stage actress. A recent pre- view proved it was worth waiting for. London critics used superlatives to describe it. New York reviewers made Dame Edith run- ner-up in their poll for the best actress of 1949 — first place went to Olivia de Havilland for 'The Heiress.' Presumably it was a box office flop in Bri- tain and America for I understand it has never been publicly screened in Australia. 'Dolwyn' has lain neglected in the Sydney vaults of its distribut- ing company. That was the fate for a long time of 'The Queen of
Spades,' another De Grunwald production in which Dame Edith ap- peared. On my suggestion, Alec Regan secured 'The Queen of Spades' and it proved a success with a selective audi- ence at the Melba Theatre, Dulwich. Now Allan Rainey has 'Dolwyn' and will show it at the Melba next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Welsh setting It's the story of a peaceful Welsh village which the agent of a peer wants to flood in connection with a water scheme. The agent (Williams) is a native of the ham- let who was expelled for a boyhood theft and who returns eager to take his revenge. Only one person holds out against the promise of compensation, an
old woman (Dame Edith) for whom com- parative wealth has no attraction if it means leaving the only place she has known as home. With her quiet coun- try dignity and appre- ciation of beauty — the birds would not sing so well in the city 100 miles away, she says — she refuses to surrender her lease. The waters must not cover her child in the graveyard as they did her seaman husband. And her strength frus- trates the petty malice of the agent. The picture of village life has charm and warm humanity. There is pathos, humor, little gems of character study in the streets, cottages, the chapel, and the inn. The speech, some- times lapsing into Welsh, is not always clear, but in the main scenes the dialogue has
force and a rich poetic rhythm not surprising from a Welshman and playwright of Williams' stature. He is not an ex- perienced film director — early the scenes switch jerkily — but his theatre sense is un- doubted. Violent climax Only the climax strikes a false note. It's melodramatic and vio- lent—exciting, but out of harmony with the previous leisured de- velopment of the plot. But this, while weakening, does not spoil a film with many merits. Dame Edith's is a beautiful performance, rich in the simplicity of the character portrayed, brilliant in the use of expression and speech. Williams does good work and Richard Bur- ton, Hugh Griffith, and others in the predomi- nantly Welsh cast ably support the stars. Pans who welcome films out of the ordi- nary cannot afford to miss this one.