“Russian screen writer Anatole de Grunwald imbues this poignant adaptation of Wynward Browne’s West End stage hit with Chekhov’s spirit and relocates the Russian’s genius for deftly-drawn characters to a rambling Norfolk parsonage on Christmas Eve. […] while The Holly and The Ivy now radiates a nostalgic glow, it is actually a revealing record of a country on the cusp of the dramatic social, economic and cultural change that has, sadly, made faith, fidelity and family feel like relics of a distant past.”
The Holly and the Ivy is a 1952 British drama film directed by George More O’Ferrall and starring Ralph Richardson, Celia Johnson, and Margaret Leighton with Denholm Elliott, John Gregson and Hugh Williams also in the cast. It was adapted from the 1950 play of the same name by Wynyard Browne. Produced by Anatole de Grunwald and co-scripted by Browne and de Grunwald it was distributed by British Lion Films. It is about an Irish clergyman whose neglect of his grown offspring, in his zeal to tend to his parishioners, comes to the surface at a Christmas family gathering.
The film was shot at Shepperton Studios outside London with sets designed by the art director Vincent Korda. Actresses Margaret Halstan and Maureen Delany reprised their roles from the stage. It was released in the United States in 1954 by the independent Pacemaker Pictures. [ Wikipedia ]
“The merry time of Christmas is drawing on a-pace…”, and so I’m delighted to share with you this Birmingham-related recording of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” [Roud 394], taken from my forthcoming album, “Up The Cut”. You can listen to (and download) the track via my Bandcamp page now, and via various streaming platforms from December 1st.
Pre-save “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” on Spotify by clicking here. You will be notified via the Spotify app when it becomes available.
I found this broadside version of the well-known carol on the Broadside Ballads website. Printed by D. Wrighton at 86 Snow Hill, Birmingham, sometime between 1812-30, it contains lyrics I don’t recognise from my school days. Throwing down Satan wasn’t a major part of Yuletide festivities in 1980s Solihull, as far as I recall.
Sure, it’s a bit cheesy to do a Christmas song, but I feel it’s something of a Midlands tradition. If Slade can do it, then I’ll have a bash, too. This one’s for Noddy. Oi, oi!
Huge thanks to Andi Lee of Kosi Studios, who has helped me to mix and master this track, and the remainder of the tracks on “Up The Cut”. It’s hard to listen to your own music even once, let alone a hundred times over, so I’m very grateful to Andi for his help (and to Tom Moore for his help in demoing the track to begin with). Thanks also to Jon Nice for the lovely linocut cover.
Here’s to having as peaceful and restful a Christmas as 2020 will allow. Good tidings of the season to each and every one of you.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen – Lyrics
God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our saviour
Was born on Christmas Day
To save our souls from Satan’s thrall
Which long have gone astray
This brings tidings of comfort and joy
Scottish-made horror-musical-comedy Anna and the Apocalypse is full of youthful, anarchic energy – which makes it a perfect fit for the Glasgow Youth Film Festival, writes Siobhan Synnot
Over the last few years the annual Glasgow Youth Film Festival has grown from a curtain raiser to the main Glasgow Film Festival in February to an event in its own right, with its own place in Scottish festival calendar.
This weekend, it runs through the movie gamut from anime to zombies, giving a new generation of passionate cinemagoers and filmmakers the opportunity to see foreign drama, animation and cutting-edge documentaries, as well as attending behind-the-scenes workshops and meeting international movie guests. Many of the film choices are hot off the reels previews, including the Scottish zombie feature Anna and The Apocalypse, which opens the festival ahead of its UK-wide release in November.
Finding a new subspecies to the zombie genre might sound like an impossible ask, but Anna’s gory story is also a Christmas movie and a musical. The tightly-budgeted feature also gives a breakthrough platform to ITV’s Cold Feet ingénue Ella Hunt as schoolgirl Anna, who is forced to learn how to fight, slash, and sing her way through hordes of the undead, including a zombie snowman, in order to help her friends reach their loved ones. The film’s director is Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate John McPhail, who will attend the premiere and a cast and crew Q&A afterwards, where he will share stories of shooting a zombie apocalypse in Port Glasgow. “I knew the area, and I know a lot about horror films, being a huge horror fan,” says the filmmaker. However, despite an absurdly catchy score by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly, McPhail admits that before Anna, movie musicals were as unfamiliar to him as vegetarian zombies. “To be honest I actually thought I hated musicals until I got this job,” says the 33 year-old Glaswegian. “So I bought a pile of them on DVD, sat on the sofa and worked my way through them. I’d never seen West Side Story before, but I loved it, so there’s a bit of West Side in Anna and The Apocalypse. I also went to see Wicked and Legally Blonde on stage, and I really enjoyed both of them as well.”