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CLIMBING HIGH (director: Carol Reed; screenwriters: Stephen Clarkson/story by Marion Dix & Sonnie Hale/Lesser Samuels; cinematographer: Mutz Greenbaum; editor: Michael Gordon; music: Louis Levy; cast: Jessie Matthews (Diana Castle), Michael Redgrave (Nicky Brooke), Noel Madison (Gibson), Alastair Sim (Max), Margaret Vyner (Lady Constance Westaker), Basil Radford (Reggie), Mary Clare (Lady Emily Westaker), Torin Thatcher (Jim Castle), Francis L. Sullivan (Madman); Runtime: 78; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Michael Balcon; VCI Entertainment; 1938-UK)
“Genial lightweight romantic musical comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brit filmmaker Carol Reed(“The Man Between”/”Trapeze”/”The Key”) effectively directs this predictable genial lightweight romantic musical comedy. The script by Lesser Samuels and Stephen Clarkson is based on the story by Marion Dix and Sonnie Hale.

Nicky Brooke (Michael Redgrave) is a wealthy socialite who falls for the poor Diana Castle (Jessie Matthews). He meets her after being a passenger in a car driven by his chauffeur (Basil Radford) that slightly injured her in a traffic accident. Diana rebuffs the smitten Nicky, who asks her out on a date. Meanwhile through her communist roommate, Max (Alastair Sim), Diane gets a gig as a model. Nicky meets her again outside her new workplace and helps her dislodge the heel of her shoe stuck in a grating. In order to know her better, Nicky poses as a model and gets hired by the same agency she works for.

Nicky is upset when he reads in the newspaper an engagement announcement he didn’t approve of placed in the paper by his girlfriend, the aristocrat gold digger Lady Constance (Margaret Vyner). He realizes he doesn’t love her, but is crazy about the spirited Diana. Diana responds warmly to Nicky’s romantic gestures, until she discovers the lie and rejects him. Her protective big brother Jim (Torin Thatcher), a macho logger, returns to London after working in Canada and wants to straighten things out when he learns his sister is engaged to a man who is also engaged to another woman. To get a clear prospective of things, Jim, sis, Nicky and the boss of the model agency (Noel Madison), trek together to the Swiss Alps.

It’s easy to guess which lady our hero eventually ends up with in this entertaining and uplifting war time film, that charms you rather than overwhelms you as it tussles with mistaken identity issues and questions over marriage expectations.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”