by John Slater
After much deliberation, our distinguished panel of film critics selected ‘I See a Dark Stranger’, starring Deborah Kerr and Trevor Howard. We aim to feature a film made wholly or partly in the Isle of Man of artistic and historic merit. This World War 2 spy film was made in 1946 set in Eire, England and the Isle of Man and more than lived up to expectation.
‘I See a Dark Stranger’ was billed as a comedy/drama. Yes, there were comedic moments but at this distance of time, I found it difficult to separate intentional comedy from the less sophisticated filming and different acting styles of the period. In many ways, this was more akin to Hitchcock’s last silent film, ‘The Manxman’, we showed last year. True, the facial expressions and bodily movements weren’t quite as pronounced but were more marked than modern dramas that tend to be so realistic that you feel that they are no more than you might see by just a look from your window. Close ups of Deborah Kerr’s face in times of stress or anguish were particularly powerful. Somehow, this style of filming made a powerful bonding between the viewer and the performer. Being filmed in black and white gave the perfect period feel and matched what was a dark tale of intrigue. Those of us who lived through and remember this war found it strangely disturbing. Given that the war against Germany’s intended domination of Europe, USSR and North Africa had only been won in 1945 and the Japanese invasion of the East was only just been halted, this was a brave, current film. Clothes and vehicles were accurate because they were all contemporaneous.
Not only did the Isle of Man feature, it was central to the story. The night scene with boats in Peel Harbour was a great bonus. The stark silhouette of the castle and old cathedral against the sky resonated with us all. No, I’m not going to spoil the story. The film is available on DVD and is well worth viewing. If you were unfortunate enough to miss this occasion, then do secure a viewing somehow!
Our next meeting is on Wednesday the 18th February at 7.30pm in the Centenary Centre. Ian Young, Emergency Planning Co-ordinator will give us a talk, ‘Manning the Defences of Mann’. Isolated, as we are, we are very dependant on our own emergency services, including the Civil Defence Corps. Given the growing problems of storms, blizzards and flooding, increasingly heavy demands are being made on emergency services, many voluntary. With the worst of the winter to come, this meeting could not be better timed.
Following refreshments, we’ll have our 26th AGM. The AGM is always lively and essential if the Trust is to continue. Two members of the committee will be retiring by rotation. The committee is able to co-opt members for particular tasks such as our publishing arm, work with local schools and ‘Peel’s Secret Gardens’ Ideas for future programmes and activities are always welcome. We rely on your support at the meeting to guide, encourage officers and committee and to allow more people to share in the fun. Let’s make sure that we’re all still enjoying Peel and PHT for another 25 years!