20 January 2018 | SimonJack
Flat WWII film fails to be funny
"Give Us the Moon" has an interesting history as a movie. It's supposed to take place after the end of World War II. But, it was filmed in the middle of the war. One wonders where Gainsborough found the places to film the movie that didn't show some damage from the London bombings. Apparently, the firm's studios weren't damaged or were repaired to cover any scars. The final oddity is that the film actually was released in British theaters in August 1944 - with the end of the war still a year away.
This is a comedy that's based on a 1939 novel, "The Elephant is White" by Caryl Brahms and S.J. Simon. The book is set in Paris, and besides the film setting in London, the authors apparently wrote some additional dialog for the screenplay.
London audiences then weren't wowed by the film, and I think I know why. It's not because of the eccentricity of the story (it's unfair to call it a plot, because it doesn't really have a clear goal or outcome). Crazy, erratic, eccentric and wildly screwball comedies can be very funny and great. But, unless the cast has the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, or the Three Stooges, it should not be expected to be zany from the start. Then, the comedy really scores. Unfortunately, this was built up as wild comedy, but this cast just doesn't deliver with the screenplay it has. So, it misfires throughout.
This was not a film to boost any actor's career. Margaret Lockwood, Peter Graves and Roland Culver had much better films in their careers. The only noteworthy casting was the first film appearance of Jean Simmons in a small role.
I enjoy clever comedy and slapstick as much as anyone, and especially like British comedy. So, I was disappointed with how flat and "unfunny" was "Give Us the Moon."