Sunday, 19 April 2020

Not TV: Honor Blackman in Serena (1962)

We have lost a couple of actors already this year, who will be well known to the readers of this blog. Tim Brooke-Taylor succumbed to Covid-19, and I feel that is the reason his death has had a higher profile. I have recently featured him in drag here and you can read a tribute to him by Grant Goggins here. Instead I have chosen to post about Honor Blackman and feature a film of hers contemporary with The Avengers.
Serena has what is a rather simple plot under the surface  and cunningly hidden by layers of deceit and confusion. This film really does take a few viewings to sort out what is happening.
I am going to say as little as possible about the plot, but I do have a few films I think are out of a similar mould to The Avengers but have not so far got round to doing a post about them.
This one has very much the same atmosphere as the early Avengers. It is set in a rather Bohemian setting, based around an artist whose wife will not divorce him because she's a devout RC. I really think this film would have been quite risqué in 1962, featuring sexual dalliance, the bohemian arty crowd and conflict between various parts of this world.
Into this steps Honor Blackman as a breath of fresh air. She was criticised for her diction, but it was those elocution lessons which gave her the key to her future career. Her diction may also seem rather old fashioned in an age when youngsters are all learning to speak LME. She also had that something which is only found in excellent actors: you forget that she is Honor Blackman and she becomes the role, while still being head and shoulders above the other actors.
If you really tried hard to criticise this film, you could say that once you have sussed the twist the solution is obvious, but who ever went to the cinema on a Saturday afternoon to solve a puzzle?
Let's end with a video of Honor being a breath of fresh air later in life.