Film of the Month

Talk of a Million (1951)

In a gossipy Irish village, a feckless man takes advantage of the rumour that he's come into a fortune to make himself and his family financially secure.

It's hard to approach an Irish-set film without a certain degree of trepidation. When British Cinema does Ireland you can expect a fair degree of whimsy, blarney, talk of the little people and a wide variety of accents, some of them never heard before or since. Talk of a Million doesn't go overboard with this but if you really can't stand that stuff, it's best avoided.

Now if you were going to cast a twinkly, blarney-stone-kissing, feckless Irish rogue it's possible that Jack Warner won't be too high on your list. In fact he's probably well down the list, somewhere between Ernest Thesiger and Esma Cannon. He doesn't do too bad a job in his stolid way. He's got a cushion down his front to bulk him up a bit and a rather curious wave in his hair to make him look artistic. It looks like it's been dyed red too, but it's hard to be certain in black and white. As for the accent, it's almost as if he didn't bother. There's a faint something in there but his accent is more a matter of suppressing any cockney and hoping for the best. As a strategy it's surprisingly effective.

Most of his fellow cast members are Irish or at least have Irish ancestry. The major exception to this is Alfie Bass who scarcely has two lines but manages to destroy both of them with his terrible accent. Bass's natural home is the East End of London, so every time he pops up you wonder if he's missed his way and wandered in from the film set next door.

The plot, such as it is, is the standard one of loser finds a way to be a winner and then goes overboard with the winning until a setback makes him realise he was happier as a loser. It's nicely enough done, though it's easy to get lost in the machinations. There are a couple of choice performances from Michael Dolan and Noel Purcell, and it's nice to see Anita Sharp-Bolster have a chance to smile in a film rather than play yet another hatchet-faced battleaxe.

Talk of a Million is worth a look, and could have been a lot worse.

Script adapt.: Frederick Gotfurt. (o.a. Louis d'Alton)

Director: John Paddy Carstairs

Players: Jack Warner, Barbara Mullen, Noel Purcell, Ronan O'Casey, Niall MacGinnis, Michael Dolan, Sidney James, Alfie Bass, Elizabeth Erskine, Joan Kenney, Vincent Ball, Milo O'Shea, Anita Sharp-Bolster, Tony Quinn, Paul Connell, John McDerby, Fred Johnson, E.J. Kennedy, John Kelly, Joe Linnane, Gordon Tanner, Bill Shine, Christie Humphrey    

Talk of a Million DVD at Amazon UK 

Talk of a Million DVD at Amazon US