STORM IN A TEACUP (directors: Victor Saville/Ian Dalrymple; screenwriters: Ian Dalrymple/Donald Bull/James Bridie/based on Bruno Frank’s play “Storm Over Patsy”; cinematographer: Mutz Greenbaum; editor: ; music: Frederick Lewis; cast: Vivien Leigh (Victoria Gow), Rex Harrison (Frank Burdon), Sara Allgood (Mrs. Hegarty), Cecil Parker (Provost William Gow), Ursula Jeans (Lisbet Skirving), Gus McNaughton (Horace Skirving), Arthur Wontner (Fiscal), Ivor Barnard (Watkins), Scruffy the Dog (Patsy), Edgar Bruce (McKellar), Robert Hale (Lord Skerryvore), Quinton MacPherson (Baillie Callender); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Victor Saville; United Arists; 1937-UK)
“It doesn’t travel well into modern times.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A Frank Capra-like feel-good populist comedy/drama that’s codirected byBrit director Victor Saville (“Dark Journey”/”Kim”/”Evensong”) and Ian Dalrymple.Saville came down with the flu, which kept him off set long enough for screenwriter Ian Dalrymple to earn a co-director credit for directing during his absence. It’s regarded by some as a minor British classic, who claim it to be the first genuine British comedy of the sound era. It’s based on the German play by Bruno Frank and is written by Dalrymple, Donald Bull and James Bridie. It’s reset from Germany to a sleepy small town in western Scotland called Baikie. This was Rex Harrison’s first starring role.
Victoria Gow (Vivien Leigh), the pretty daughter of the wealthy provost William Gow (Cecil Parker), returns from school in France and bumps into the new reporter on the local newspaper, the Englishman Frank Burdon (Rex Harrison), as they disembark from a ship at Baikie. Frank becomes smitten with Victoria, while she takes notice of him. His first assignment is to interview the provost, who has joined the Scottish Nationalist Party and aspires to win its nomination for a seat in Parliament. During the interview in the provost’s mansion, a poor ice cream street venderHonoria Hegarty (Sara Allgood) barges in to complain that her mongrel dog Patsy is to be taken away from her and put down because she doesn’t have enough money for a dog license. The insensitive and pompous politician refuses to listen to her and gives her the boot, after telling the reporter that he’s best suited for the higher office because he’s willing to listen and help his constituents.
Frank wrestles with his conscience and knowing he’ll get the sack because the newspaper head, Horace Skirving (Gus McNaughton), is the provost’s best friend and chief supporter, nevertheless gets the story into the morning paper showing the provost to be a bullying cad. When the provost in the evening is giving a campaign speech at town hall, he’s jeered by the crowd that greet him with imitation dog barks. The humiliated provost swears to get his revenge on both the woman and the reporter. His daughter who thinks dad was too harsh on the woman, still sides with dad but wants the two men in her life to settle things before the dog incident becomes a major issue. When the provost has Hegarty’s ice cream truck seized, the common folks set a number of stray dogs in the provost’s house while he meets with the chairman of the Scottish Nationalist Party, Lord Skerryvore (Robert Hale), to secure the nomination. The provost becomes so humiliated, thinking Frank’s behind these mob scenes, that he brings him to court on criminal charges. But people around the country sympathize with the pet owner and an animal rights group comes to her defense.
Before the circus trial can be concluded all the parties concerned learn some life lessons and settle their differences peacefully: the provost learns about humility and resumes his political career when he yields his hardline position; Victoria learns that love is stronger than defending a pig-headed dad; and Frank learns that he must act out of conviction and trust that by doing the right thing everything will work out for the best. In the climax, Frank and Victoria wed.
Leigh and Harrison served the screwball comedy well, but the story was so incredibly naive that it doesn’t travel well into modern times. But as a counter to fascism, it at least took a subtle poke at fascism.
REVIEWED ON 9/8/2010 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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