Dir: Alexander Mackendrick | Writers: Jack Whittingham, Nigel Balchin | Cast: Phylis Calvert, Jack Hawkins, Terence Morgan | UK | 93min | Ealing Classic
Alexander Mackendrick’s Ealing classic MANDY is much a love story as an inspiring study of perseverance and courage set in London in the early 1950s. Based on Hilda Lewis’ The Days Is Ours, originally serialised on Woman’s Hour, the book captured the imagination of Mackendrick (Whisky Galore!) whose adaptation went on to win the Special Jury Prize at Venice in 1952.
Born deaf, Mandy is mute for most of her childhood, causing her parents tremendous sadness and a rift in their marriage. Her mother Christine(Phyllis Calvert /Mr. Denning Drives North), moves on her own to be near Mandy’s residential remedial school where she grows close to Jack Hawkins’ dynamic teacher Searle whose positive influence brings out the best in Mandy, encouraging her first words. Meanwhile Christine’s husband Harry (Terence Morgan) becomes increasingly jealous threatening to divorce her and take Mandy away.
Hearthrob of the day Jack Hawkins’ gives a warm and thoughtful performance as the gallant Searle who has Mandy’s best interests at heart in contrast to her self-centred and impulsive father. Phyllis Calvert brings to mind another quietly selfless ’50s heroine Celia Johnson in her portrayal of Christine, desperate to save her marriage but wanting to do the best for her little girl. Mackendrick’s crisp direction is enhanced by a very sensitive and insightful script that never sentimentalises Mandy’s plight but garners appeal for the adult love story as much as the child’s suffering. The final scenes are surprisingly moving. MT
CELEBRATING 65TH ANNIVERSARY OF MANDY | VINTAGE CLASSICS COLLECTION SHOWCASING ICONIC BRITISH FILMS | RESTORATION FUNDED BY PARK CIRCUS | 12 JUNE