"The pace is deliberately slow to give time for these fears and passions to settle in a civilised way."

Mandy was Sandy Mackendrick's third film after Whisky Galore! and The Man In The White Suit. Made for Ealing Studios it is remembered with affection by Sandynistas and those who miss the black-and-white experience in the days when lips stiffened at moments of crisis and Alec Guinness ruled the comic firmament.

The film has not travelled well. With the exception of Jack Hawkins and Eleanor Summerfield, in too small a role as the bossy best friend, and Edward Chapman as a scheming school governor, the performances knock on wood. Phyllis Calvert as Mandy's mother and Terence Morgan as her father have their roots in the stand-and-speak style of acting leaving seven-year-old Mandy Miller to suffer intense close ups while her character struggles with conflicting emotions as a deaf-and-mute child in an upper middle class household where disability is treated with embarrassment and divorce as social suicide.

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First, after years of denial, there is reluctant acceptance - the girl can't hear; the girl can't speak. What next? Mum wants to send her to a grim looking boarding school for the deaf up north, run by an unconventional teacher (Hawkins) who refuses to play politics with local council toadies, while Dad wants to keep her safe and out of sight in his parents' posh house in London "for her own good".

Will Mandy learn to speak and find the confidence to play with other children? Will her teacher and her mother find the courage to share their emotional secrets? What will her father do, stuck in The Smoke? Will society accept the situation?

The pace is deliberately slow to give time for these fears and passions to settle in a civilised way. At the centre Mandy orchestrates the mood music and conducts a chorus of tears.

As an historic record of outdated attitudes towards responsibility and class the film is true to itself. Hawkins' teacher is the fly in the ointment and the voice of reason, spoken with feeling in a world where manners hid deception for the sake of appearances.

Reviewed on: 11 Jun 2017
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Mandy packshot
A teacher tries to help a deaf and mute child to communicate.
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Director: Alexander Mackendrick

Writer: Nigel Balchin, Jack Whittingham, based on the novel by Hilda Lewis

Starring: Phyllis Calvert, Jack Hawkins, Terence Morgan, Godfrey Tearle, Mandy Miller, Marjorie Fielding, Nancy Price, Edward Chapman, Patricia Plunkett, Eleanor Summerfield, Colin Gordon, Dorothy Alison, Julian Amyes, Gabrielle Brune, John Cazabon

Year: 1952

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK


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