Major Barbara (film)
Major Barbara is a 1941 British film starring Wendy Hiller and Rex Harrison. The film was produced and directed by Gabriel Pascal and edited by David Lean. It was adapted for the screen by Marjorie Deans and Anatole de Grunwald, based on the 1905 stage play Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw. It was both a critical and financial success.
|Directed by||Gabriel Pascal|
|Produced by||Gabriel Pascal|
|Written by||George Bernard Shaw|
Anatole de Grunwald
|Music by||William Walton|
|Edited by||David Lean|
Gabriel Pascal Productions
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors|
In this social satire, Barbara Undershaft (Hiller), an idealistic major in the Salvation Army, is deeply troubled by the fact that her father, Andrew Undershaft (Robert Morley), is a wealthy weapons manufacturer. Meanwhile, Andrew is looking for an heir for his industrial empire, in particular a foundling like himself.
- Wendy Hiller as Major Barbara Undershaft
- Rex Harrison as Adolphus Cusins
- Robert Morley as Andrew Undershaft
- Robert Newton as Bill Walker
- Sybil Thorndike as The General
- Emlyn Williams as Snobby Price
- Miles Malleson as Morrison, the butler
- Stanley Holloway as a Policeman
- Kathleen Harrison as Mrs. Price
- Donald Calthrop as Peter Shirley
- Marie Lohr as Lady Britomart
- Marie Ault as Rummy Mitchens
- Penelope Dudley-Ward as Sarah Undershaft
- Walter Hudd as Stephen Undershaft
- David Tree as Charles Lomax
- Deborah Kerr as Jenny Hill
Major Barbara was filmed in London during The Blitz bombing of 1940. During air raids, the crew and cast repeatedly had to dodge into bomb shelters. The film's producer-director, Pascal, never stopped the production and the film was completed on schedule.
According to Kinematograph Weekly it was the sixth most popular film of 1941 in Britain, after 49th Parallel, Great Dictator, Pimpernel Smith and Lady Hamilton.
In a contemporary review, Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times, "To call it a manifest triumph would be arrant stinginess with words. For this is something more than just a brilliant and adult translation of a stimulating play, something more than a captivating compound of ironic humor and pity. This is a lasting memorial to the devotion of artists working under fire, a permanent proof for posterity that it takes more than bombs to squelch the English wit. It is as wry and impudent a satire of conventional morals and social creeds as though it had been made in a time of easy and carefree peace. It is, in short, a more triumphant picture than any the British have yet sent across." while more recently, Time Out wrote, "There is plenty to relish, notably Newton and Morley hamming it up (as, respectively, the rumbustious Bill Walker and the overbearing tycoon), and Deborah Kerr in her debut; but it does tend to just sit there. It was David Lean's first shot at directing, but producer Pascal helmed the bulk of it."
- Valerie Pascal. The Disciple and His Devil. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970.
- Gene D., Phillips (2006). Beyond the Epic: The Life and Films of David Lean. University Press of Kentucky. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-8131-2415-5.
- Lant, Antonia (1991). Blackout : reinventing women for wartime British cinema. Princeton University Press. p. 231.
- Crowther, Bosley (15 May 1941). "George Bernard Shaw's 'Major Barbara,' at the Astor, Seen as a Triumph -- 'Lady From Louisiana' Presented at Loew's Criterion". Retrieved 10 June 2018 – via NYTimes.com.
- TCH (2017). "Major Barbara". Time Out London. Archived from the original on 14 September 2017.
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