22 September 2008 | lorenellroy
Class divide in Edwardian England
This is a proficient and workmanlike version of the H G Wells novel about Arthur Kipps ,who at the age of 14 ,is apprenticed to a draper in Folkestone ,Kent .He leaves his lower middle class home and the girl next door ,Ann ,on whom he is sweet ,but not before they exchange a token of endearment -two halves of sixpence ,which they pledge to join together if they should meet again .
Life as a draper's assistant is hard and the rule of the shop owner positively feudal but Kipps prospers until he is dismissed by his straight arrow boss following a night of drunkenness with the flamboyant actor Chitlow (Arthur Riscoe).His fortunes are revived when he inherits a large sum of money and a substantial property in the town .He is soon taken into society under the tutelage of Chester -a mannered and theatrical but effective performance by Max Adrian .He becomes engaged to the snobbish Helen Walsingham (Diane Wyngard)but things get complicated when a now grown up Ann (Phyllis Calvert)re-enters his life .
Class and snobbery are at the heart of Kipps -both movie and book -and these motifs form the core of the movie .It is well acted and although Redgrave lacks the lightness of touch that ,say Guinness,would have brought to proceedings ,he is still admirable .Wynard is fine but Calvert is just a tad too genteel in the role of Ann .The script ,by Launder and Gilliat ,rambles a bit and the direction of Carol Reed seems excessively detached .There is much to enjoy however ,despite its longueurs ,and students of vintage British cinema will lap it up