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Designing Women (1948) Starring Joyce Grenfell

Last Christmas I made a post about Fanny Cradock and fortuitously this weekend I have bought the Central Office of Information volume 2: Design for Today and thus discovered this gem which provides an excuse for a post featuring Joyce Grenfell. I realise that I am being inconsistent but some people, like Fanny and Joyce  are so much themselves that I make an exception to my usual rule about familiar faces for them.

In my opinion it is worth buying the set for this sweet film alone, but you can also watch it on YouTube above or at the Internet Archive here. It is about a young couple moving into their first home without much idea of how to go about it, and the film is about the contrasting demands of design and art. Grenfell plays Miss Arty and Audrey Fildes plays Miss Design - the booklet describes them as ethereal beings - who just appear in the couple's house. Grenfell plays her artistic part wonderfully, and the arrangements she makes in the house are hilariously impractical. Of course the most incredible thing is that virtually nobody gets to select all things they want for their first or any other home, every kitchen I have ever seen has been marred by at least a few design blunders, and nobody gets to change things once decided. But then perhaps this short film embodies the post-War optimism that I am always banging on about here. Also ironic is that it is amongst the oldest things I have pontificated about and looks so old fashioned. Nonetheless it is a joy (ha).
Joyce must be familiar to regular readers here by her appearances in such films as the St Trinian's series and her monologues - the one featuring George is below. She had difficulty with theatrical people because of an uneasiness around 'queers', despite being friendly with Noel Coward. What drove Joy was her Christian Science faith, which does tend to seem strange to those who don't belong to it, and she didn't publicise this aspect of her life. Reggie her husband did not share this faith and prompted her to see a doctor about the cancer which killed her, although Wikipedia says she was never told she had cancer.

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