2 April 2014 | oldblackandwhite
Stiff Upper Lip From Beginning To End
Many thanks to the other reviewers who have clued us in that Maxwell Reed, leading man of Blackout, was attempting to put on an American accent. Yours truly and the grouchy old wife were speculating on what nationality he was -- perhaps Canadian. His lingo didn't sound like any of the usual British accents, yet he certainly did not sound like an American of any known species. Actually there is no one "American" accent, but at least two dozen distinct dialects. My home state of Texas can account no less than six regional variations on the "Taxsun" dialect, which some people think should be regarded as a separate language -- especially damn Yankees who have recently relocated here. But I digress. Reed's attempt to sound like an American, if that is really what he was trying to do for whatever reason, was quite pathetic. He just sounded like and Irishman with a bad head cold.
No one would ever mistake Maxwell Reed or any other Britisher for an American. Yours truly and the grouchy old lady, as we watch these quota quickies and other British productions, always marvel at how this bunch speaks English, yet is no more like us Americans than Italians or Spaniards or Croats. There can't be any other race anywhere as wooden as the British. Stiff upper lip? They're stiff from head to toe! You have to wonder how they know when it's time to bury one of them. And Maxwell Reed was surely one of the stiffest of the stiff! In no scene of Blackout can he be detected moving any of his facial muscles more than one sixteenth of an inch. Leading lady of Blackout, Dinah Sheridan was not far behind. How does a director direct them to act when none of them would show any more emotion for a hurricane than for a hangnail? Not to say that there were not excellent British actors. But most of them, such as Ronald Coleman, David Niven, Merle Oberon, Greer Garson and Herbert Marshall, were usually to be found in Hollywood. If Reed and Ms. Sheridan had ever relocated to that land of big productions and high salary, it is unlikely either would have ever risen much above the level of bit player.
Not that we don't enjoy the occasional product of fair Albion's cinema. For all its shabby production values and bland acting, Blackout was not such a bad little crime thriller. Pacing was a bit of a problem. Everything rolled along at a continuous breakneck speed with no chance to catch your breath or reflect on the doings. Perhaps they were afraid of running out of film. The score was just background music which did little to enhance the drama or action and was quite irritating at times. However, the cinematography, as with most of these Brit pence-pinchers, was very decent, while the story and the action kept your attention. Enjoyable if you are in the right mood -- and keep a stiff upper lip!