The versatile Alec Guinness is back on my viewing schedule. The wonderful iconic man can play anything. From simple with a big dash of genius (The Man In The White Suit) to a wise galaxy hopping master (Star Wars) to the most Scottish man in the whole of Britain (Tunes of Glory). There’s so many other comic and dramatic performances to name. To be honest I’ve seen a fair few but am making sure I work my way through the main body of his excellent work. Last night I got to Last Holiday and it was a pure delight.
Last Holiday is a dark tale wrapped up in a bittersweet, finding oneself, comedy drama. Alec Guinness plays George Bird an agricultural salesman who takes himself off to the doctors for a check up. Unfortunately George is about to receive terrible news. The, to the point, doctor holds up an x-ray of our George and proceeds to inform him he’s inflicted with a condition called Lampington’s disease. A disease that will without doubt kill poor George within a few weeks! Shaken and bewildered, he reflects about his life. He’d buried himself into work, making no time to meet a wife, made no friends or had the chance to start a family. He was now middle aged and in a few weeks he would be checking out of this world with nothing to have shown for his time and no one to even talk too.
George Bird is just an ordinary man, he’d saved a small amount of money and he remembers back to the doctor’s last words to him “take what savings you have and enjoy yourself in the little time left to you!“. Cashing his money he sets off to a high class residential hotel frequented by the rich elite. If he was going out, he might as well go out in style.
With a new wardrobe of expensive clothes and a well traveled suitcase, George Bird arrival causes great mystery amongst the guests. A hotel filled with toffs, obnoxious politicians, chancers, wideboys and sleeping aristocrats. Mixed in with the posh clientele there’s the blue collar hotel staff and a policeman to be found. Classic British actors are in abundance. You will find Sidney James, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Kay Walsh and Bernard Lee. George is a very honest and straight talking man with an instant modest manner and this intrigues the guests of the hotel to high means. Will they be able to work out our George, will he reveal his secret? Is he a spy? a famous playboy? It’s great to watch Alec Guinness doing his craft as he wanders about the hotel trying to hide his sad news and changing people’s outlooks with his honest nature.
A Few Observations
- I’d never heard of Lampington’s disease and wondered what on earth it could be. To relief I find out it is in fact one of many fictional diseases, disorders, infections, and pathogens that have popped up in film fiction through the years. Check the wiki link of Fictional Diseases is you have a morbid fascination.
- I see there was a remake in 2006 of Last Holiday starring, of all people, Queen Latifah as Georgia Byrd. I’m very interested to see her approach, I can imagine she brings a lot of warmth to the character. I assume it doesn’t follow the whole story? It co-stars LL Cool J, Timothy Hutton and Giancarlo “Gus” Esposito.
- Directed by Henry Cass from a screenplay from English playwright and social commentator J.B. Priestley. Many will know JB for his famous play An Inspector Calls.
- Keep your eyes open as there’s lots of little key nods to the story throughout. Plus JB’s fitted in a social commentary of class, wealth and maybe snobbiness.
- The up-market residential hotel that was used in the film was located in Torquay Devon and called The Rosetor. I read it was pulled down and replaced with The English Riviera Centre which unfortunately looks like a carpark from the outside.
Have you seen Sir Alec Guinness in Last Holiday? What did you think? or if you get to see it soon like me, maybe pop on back and let me know. Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy it and thanks as always for dropping on by my little film blog. Keep searching for the goodies, Mikey Wolf.
PS – Remember this isn’t Hollywood.