Film Review

The Holly and the Ivy

todayJanuary 5, 2023 82

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By Gareth Jones

For fans of post WWII British cinema, Ralph Richardson, thoughtful Christmas stories

George More O’Ferrall was known primarily as a British television director and producer, but between 1952 and 1957, he directed seven feature films beginning with the Christmas-themed film The Holly and the Ivy.  Starring the always brilliant Ralph Richarson and Celia Johnson, it tells the story of a splintered family returning home for Christmas.  Richardson plays the aging father, still stumbling after the death of his wife.  His loyal daughter (Celia Johnson) has taken over the motherly duties, taking care of him and putting off her marriage. The son (played by a very young Denholm Elliottt) is returning home from the army, while it is still unknown if the other daughter, the fashion critic (Margaret Leighton), will return. Her struggle will either bring the family together or complete the dissolution.  The acting is superb in showcasing the post WWII pain and suffering that the “stiff upper lip” English mentality cannot contain.  The screenplay has inspiring character arcs and nuance that the actors elucidate for the audience.  This is not your typical Christmas story.  It deals with aging parents, loss of a partner, death of a child, and the pain of alcoholism.  Here, what is normally swept under the rug provides a revelation of true love and holiday spirit. 

Available at your local library!  Kanopy!

Written by: Gareth Jones

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