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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Green Man (1956)
(2020 Restoration)


Starring: Alastair Sim, George Cole, Terry-Thomas and Jill Adams
Distributor: StudioCanal

Certificate: PG
Release Date: 18 May 2020

StudioCanal release a newly restored version of the classic British black comedy, The Green Man. Starring Alastair Sim, directed by Robert Day and with a BAFTA nominated screenplay by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder. Sim plays Harry Hawkins, a timid watchmaker with a part time job – he is also a professional assassin who bumps off the people we love to hate. But when the philandering MP Sir Gregory Upshott is the intended target, vacuum cleaner salesman William Blake and Hawkins’s new neighbour Ann Vincent repeatedly get in the way. As the time of the assassination draws ever closer and Hawkins tracks his victim to a dilapidated seaside hotel called the Green Man, the laughs and the tension steadily rise to a brilliant climax...

For the 2020 restoration of The Green Man, StudioCanal went back to the original camera negative where possible and alternative sources where severe damage that could not be repaired was encountered. These elements were scanned at 4K resolution in 10bit and then restored in 4k. The end result is a crisp new looking print that ensures the movie is preserved for generations to come.

Alastair Sim is on top form as Harry Hawkins, a professional hitman who has a little trouble (of farcical proportions) conducting his latest murder attempt. He's spent months wooing Marigold, the secretary of prominent businessman Sir Gregory Upshott, in a bid to pump her for information on Upshott's movements. But a slight lapse of concentration means that Marigold starts to become suspicious. When she threatens to turn up at Hawkins's house to talk things through, Hawkins has his assistant meet her and silence her... permanently.

However, Hawkins's new neighbour, Ann Vincent, along with a vacuum salesman called William Blake, stumble upon the murder and slowly piece together what is going on, the race is on between Hawkins and our heroes to see who can get to Sir Upshott first.

Sim is delightfully over the top, when needed, and truly sinister at other times. He's at his comedic best when entertaining the all female musical trio in the bar and at his most sinister when lying to Marigold on the phone.

The movie moves along at a cracking pace and feels like two stage plays stitched together, with act I being the original murder of Marigold and act II being the events in The Green Man hotel.

While Terry Thomas is woefully underused (his part could have been stripped from the film and the plot wouldn't have suffered at all) it's great to see him appear.

The one niggling thing that bothered me was why Hawkins cut the wire to his own phone. He could have just cut the receiver off and pretended to call the police. If Blake had wanted to call someone else then Sim's ruse would be rumbled.

Extras include:

Alastair Sim and The Green Man by Stephen Fry (25 min, 36 sec). A new interview with Fry who regales us with his thoughts on Sim and the movie. It's obviously he's a huge fan of the actor... however, considering he knew he was going to be interviewed specifically about The Green Man you'd have thought he'd have watched it again in preparation. His recollections of the plot aren't quite what they should be.

Interview with Cultural Historian Matthew Sweet (24 min, 24 sec). A new interview with Sweet who runs us through the background to the studio system, Sim's personality and his relationship with Cole. This is easily the best feature on the disc.

Those British Faces: Alastair Sim (27 min, 32 sec). Part of a series of features that look at the background to famous British actors of a bygone era. This one, not surprisingly, focuses on Sim.

Behind the Scenes and Portraits Stills Gallery (1 min, 08 sec)


Darren Rea

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