When Dirk Bogarde was introduced three or four years ago as a big new British star, we begged leave to doubt. The showing of his first film. Esther Waters, proved that we were justified in our caution. We wanted further proof of his talent.
Nevertheless, the picture convinced us that Dirk “had something.” Four months ago, when The Blue Lamp was enjoying a successful release, we thought enough of Dirk’s progress, as revealed in that picture, to devote two pages of PICTUREGOER to a composite feature made up of an article by Bogarde himself assessing his development and an analytical piece by the Editor.
Now we have had a chance to see Dirk in his latest film; and it is nice to be able to say that his latest work justifies the space we then gave to him. Bogarde is making the grade.
So Long at the Fair is not a picture of the outstanding quality of The Blue Lamp. But it is good entertainment which provides Dirk with a conventional hero rôle opposite Jean Simmons’s distressed heroine.
Look back over Bogarde’s pictures and you’ll find that he has not had this kind of part before. Everything he has previously done, in good films or not so good, has been what players call an “acting” part. Some of them, like the young crook in The Blue Lamp, were almost character rôles.
Dramatic scenes highlighted them; even the least good of them offered something into which the young actor could get his teeth. And bite on every chance he did.
There’s little of that sort of thing in his role in So Long at the Fair. In quite a large respect, that is a very good thing. It enables Dirk to prove with some charm that he can sustain a part which provides no grandstand opportunities. Many a first-rate dramatic actor has fallen down as a conventional hero – he has found no chance to do his stuff and he has had no personality to offer in place of acting.
Bogarde has; and most picturegoers will agree that in this rather mild yet fascinating melodrama he makes Jean Simmons an ideal partner, without seeming to do much about it histrionically.
In plain words, Dirk has proved that he possesses star quality as well as the acting ability which was never in doubt. When he wrote for PICTUREGOER readers he said: “I regard myself as the star who hasn’t quite.” Hasn’t quite established himself as a star in the film sense, he meant.
Now, we think, he can claim that he has and he has done this in a film of which, as the Editor pointed out, no big things were expected. Surely he has earned himself the right to a really first-class rôle in a major film that will make the most of his personality and his talent.