Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Card (aka The Promoter) (1952)

Seen: On our big screen/projector set-up, streamed from netflix instant.

Scanning through titles randomly on netflix instant is always a gamble, but the promise of Alec Guinness being goofy and Glynis Johns being anything proved tempting despite knowing nothing else about The Card (released as The Promoter in the US). Based on the book by Arnold Bennett, the film chronicles the rise of one Edward Henry "Denry" Machin (Guinness), a clever opportunist who moves from an entry-level solicitor's clerk to mayor of his city in early twentieth century England. A beautiful but equally sly dance tutor (Johns) romances him for his increasing fortune, but her true intentions are unclear.

Much too old for the "young upstart"-type role but fooling the eye with his baby face and silly haircut, Guinness is an adorable and goofy lead. He charms his way in and out of various scams, but he's rarely mean about it so no one seems to mind. His naivete only really shows through in his interactions with Ruth Earp, played by the enthusiastic Glynis Johns, whose affected high-pitched voice and comedic timing make for the most memorable performance in the film. Or maybe that's my personal preference showing through.

The script is nicely understated, but at times I wished it wouldn't be so quiet about its humor. The story is so sparse that the jokes needed to be stronger to really make an impact. As it stands, The Card is a cute, quirky comedy whose strong lead actors make it more entertaining. It wasn't bad, I just don't have much to say about it. Some great costumes, though.

3.5/5

Pair This Movie With: Ummm there's always Mary Poppins for more shots of Glynis Johns in awesome turn-of-the-century outfits!

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