THUNDER ROCK (director: Roy Boulting; screenwriters: from the play by Robert Ardrey/Jeffrey Dell/Bernard Miles; cinematographer: Mutz Greenbaum; editor: Roy Boulting; music: Hans May; cast: Michael Redgrave (David Charleston), Barbara Mullen (Ellen Kirby), James Mason (Streeter), Lilli Palmer (Melanie Kurtz), Finlay Currie (Capt. Joshua Stuart), Frederick Valk (Dr. Stefan Kurtz), Sybille Binder (Anne-Marie Kurtz), Frederick Cooper (Ted Briggs), Jean Shepherd (Mrs. Briggs), A.E. Matthews (Mr. Kirby), Miles Malleson (Chairman of Directors); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John Boulting; TCM; 1942-UK)
“A gripping wartime propaganda fantasy film that was based on the anti-isolation play of Robert Ardrey.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A well-conceived Boulting Brothers psychological drama, that plays out as a gripping wartime propaganda fantasy film that was based on the anti-isolation play of Robert Ardrey. It’s written by Jeffrey Dell and Bernard Miles. Roy Boulting (“Run For The Sun”/”A French Mistress”/”There’s A Girl In My Soup”) is the director and editor, while brother John produces. The film is close in style to Powell and Pressburger.
David Charleston (Michael Redgrave, reprising his stage role) during the 1930s is a disillusioned British war correspondent. He was a fervent anti-Fascist and an opponent of appeasement. His newspaper reports about German rearmament are censored by the editor of his newspaper. So he quits to go on a speaking tour of Britain using the slogan “Britain Awake!”, but when people are indifferent he becomes cynical and chucks civilization. He works alone in Canada as a government lighthouse keeper in a Lake Michigan lighthouse. When Charleston finds a ship’s log from a steamer that went down in the waters near Thunder Rock in 1849, he studies the names of the passengers who had drowned in the tragedy and through his rich imagination conjures them up as specters he communicates with. Charleston soon finds he brings to life in his mind the same world he left behind, and when he can’t dismiss them he becomes instead inspired by their tales of woe and, in the not too subtle message, realizes he must find a way to be a part of the struggle against Fascism in England.
A fine technical achievement, that’s wonderfully performed and very weird.
REVIEWED ON 5/20/2009 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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