7 July 2005 | niels-4
Entertaining booster from the early war years
College student Peter Henderson (Geoffrey Hibbert) turns 18 and is now old enough to take over his deceased fathers business "John Henderson & Co.". Peter's parents died in an accident years ago and he is now to learn his trade by working in the London office. In order to gain respect from his co-workers he decides to learn all about the business by attending board meetings and regular office hours. This to great distress from some of his managers who have their own racket on the side for personal profit.
Young Henderson goes undercover in Londons poorer section, among the regular folks. At "Charlies", meeting place for the common worker and the less fortunate in life, he meets an assortment of people that he becomes attached to and admire. People with small tragedies in their lives. One is the father of glamorous and popular night club singer Sylvia Meadows (Greta Gynt). He only admire his daughter from afar as he is afraid she will be embarrassed by his status and appearance. Henderson & Co. owns the property where "Charlies" is located. The company plans to tear it down and make place for modern buildings. Hendersons business partners are shrewd and Peter is making plans to expose them.
Working undercover young Henderson learns important lessons in life and find love in Joyce Howard as Mary. The film has that typical "moralistic" touch. It is made during the early war years and gives the feeling how important it was for people to stand together, no matter which class of society you are from. There are important lessons to learn from the regular folks. "The Common Touch" has a happy ending for most involved and is entertaining and fast paced.
"The Common Touch" do have some great production values. The set design is wonderful and I assume they went on location to film some of the interiors from the Henderson mansion. The location for "Charlies" place is atmospheric and authentic. Makes you feel at home there as you would in the rich mansion.
The night club scenes are fantastic. Greta Gynt does a wonderful glamorous musical number. A Cuban number with drums and a huge organ, what a combination. It is a definite take off on Carmen Miranda(Gynt did a similar number in "It's that man again", 1943). Gynt and the chorus of dancers have inventive customs. Music is provided throughout the film by The London Symphony Orchestra,, Carroll Gibbons & his orchestra and Sandy McPherson. Unfortunately Greta Gynts songs are dubbed by someone else. Too bad as Gynt knew how to sing.
Director John Baxter did well with this film. Geoffrey Hibbert is likable and believable as Peter Henderson. Perhaps his character is a little too sure of himself, he always knows best and follows this inner voice saying: "never leave the common touch". Putting that aside I enjoyed the film. Was a bit surprised that the production values were so high.
The video I watched of this film was from The American version. It appears that one musical number was cut short. Probably as the film in it's original British release was 104 min. Oh, how I wish the British Film Institute would restore these lesser "gems" from The British film history. PS! As of December 2007 there is now a restored, original length, DVD version availaible for sale in England.