Sunday, 19 March 2017

More Bouncing Bombs


A quick correction re Brean Down Fort: The site was used to test a bouncing bomb, but not THE bouncing bomb. The one they tested was designed to skip over the water towards ships, avoiding the anti-torpedo nets.

I looked this up because last night we watched The Dam Busters on DVD (again) and it has real footage of the B.B. tests, including Derwent Water. I was reminded that the first tests were carried out at Reculver, near Herne Bay in Kent. I lived there for a while but for some reason I never visited the massive (ex-Roman) fort which dominates the skyline of the cliff.

I still love watching The Dam Busters after all these years, and the funniest part of it to me is when Richard Todd gets out of his plane and shouts the name of his beloved black labrador across the airfield. I suppose that if they show the film in today's climate, they have to bleep out the dog's name like they do in Kanye West tunes on the radio. Shortly before the poor things gets run over, he does a tour of the airfield and is greeted by every airman, sentry and officer - by name. To my Tourette's-like sense of humour, it just gets funnier and funnier in a cringing sort of way.

Michael Redgrave plays Barnes Wallis  - a classic absent-minded boffin who stands a foot taller than Richard Todd and six inches taller than everyone else. My father worked next door in a different Nissen Hut (is that how you spell it?) to Barnes Wallis when he worked for Vickers Aviation, right in the middle of the old Brooklands race track near Weybridge. I remember going there a few times and you couldn't miss Wallis's office because there were two huge bombs either side of the door like classical pillars. Having grown up hearing his name, it never quite sunk in that 'Barnes' was his first name and not the beginning of a hyphenated last one.

I know that all members of the Redgrave dynasty are good actors, but I find each and every one of them mildly irritating. I think it is because they are just actors. They are actor's actors and I don't believe they have had any experience to draw from outside of the theatre, film or TV worlds.

I was sent some black and white photos of the 1968 student sit-in thing recently (some of them featuring little old young me) and one is of Vanessa Redgrave on a march looking very serious. Too serious actually. It is like she is acting being serious, never having been asked to be genuinely serious before.

A few years ago, a friend of mine dropped dead of a heart-attack whilst trying to keep himself healthy on a static gym exercise bike. At his funeral, his ex-actor wife solemnly lead the coffin up the aisle of the church with a widow's fixed blank stare on her face, then she did the same on the way out and it just didn't ring true to me.

Later she said to me that was the greatest part she had ever played.

14 comments:

  1. I don't know what to comment Tom but I wanted to say, hi and interesting.
    Greetings Maria x

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    1. And I don't know how to respond to your comment!

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  2. I was going to say that talk of war and how brave your dad was puts having two fannies ( Fanny's? ) into perspective !!!!! XXXX

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  3. Streep is a good actress I always think

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  4. Streep is a good actress I always think

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    1. Maybe, but I don't like watching her. There are very few actors I like watching in fact. I agree with Hitchcock when it comes to actors.

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  5. Streep loves the little moment to herself when acting...a little smile, a wince, a tic, a moment with a finger....

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    1. A little moment to herself - shared with a few million others.

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  6. No, they haven't changed the name. I saw the film again quite recently, and it's still there. I'm surprised some PC nerd hasn't complained.

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    1. They just don't show the film any more - at least, not in some places.

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  7. It's one of those great, British stiff upper lip films that are always so enjoyable to watch. I'm always fascinated to know if people in those days did actually speak like they did in the films, so posh and clipped.

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    1. My father didn't, but my mother did.

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  8. My husband loves that film and the music that goes with it! In fact he loves any movie with Richard Todd. Often mentions when he met Douglas Bader in the RAF Club. And, yes it is surprising that the name of the dog stays. My husband's favourite Richard Todd film is Greengage Summer, which I don't like at all ...

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