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Autumn Crocus

Autumn Crocus (1934)

February. 01,1934
| Drama Romance

A teacher falls in love with the married owner of the guest house in which she is staying during a holiday to Austria.


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Shy school teacher on a holiday in the Tyrolian Alps is romanced by a married man with children, for whom a second relationship is of no consequence to his morals, but is impossible with her British upbringingFay Compton deserved an Oscar or Bafta nom for her incredibly sensitive performance. The latter didn't exist then and the former only honored USA films. She is superb. Novello is again charming as the boy-child persona of his talkie performances, full of life and love, regardless of society's judgments. This was to be his last film.Of the six talkies he made, I have seen five. He was totally awful in THE PHANTOM FIEND, an inept remake of his silent success under Hitchcock's direction of THE LODGER, giving an over the top melodramatic performance that was execrable under any criteria. However, of the remaining talkies I have seen, he is brilliant, with superb dramatic and comedic timing. Seek out this, plus I LIVED WITH YOU (his best), and SLEEPING CAR.There is a subtle lesbian attraction implied between the leading lady and her traveling companion, well done.This DVD from a private collector timed out at 1:20, six minutes short of its official timing.Note the similarity in plot of Arthur Laurents' play THE TIME OF THE CUCKOO, later the classic David Lean film, SUMMERTIME, and still later, the Rodgers-Sondheim musical play, DO I HEAR A WALTZ?


Basil Dean decided to make both this film and The Constant Nymph with Tyrolean backgrounds.He sent a second unit to Austria in charge of Carol Reed.They were beset by problems including days of rain.Dean decided to direct this film himself and was rightly dissatisfied by his efforts.He was concerned that some actors looked down on the cinema and their minds were on their evening theatre performance.Clearly this refers to Novello who gives a truly awful performance in his final film.He is totally miscast with a woeful accent.Compton on the other hand gives a sensitive performance.Whilst the film did well in better class cinemas it did not fare well with what he called the cheaper seats.Another step on the path to his exit from Ealing.

Eleanor Knowles Dugan

"Autumn Crocus" was the first play of UK writer Dodie Smith, using pseudonym A.L. Anthony. The West End hit starred Francis Lederer in the Novello role, with Martita Hunt and Fay Compton who repeated the school teacher role in the 1934 film. Intriguingly, this 1931 plot was borrowed (or inspired?)American playwright Arthur Laurents whose 1952 play, "Time of the Cuckoo" with Shirley Booth also had a spinster school teacher seeking romance on her first trip abroad, and finding it with a handsome local. (The UK teacher longs for the Alps, while the US teacher goes for Venice.) I utterly adore Ivor Novello, but sadly must report that, in the light of modern sensibilities, here he does NOT play a romantic or sympathetic figure. Rather, he is comes off as a smarmy serial seducer of fragile tourists. To avoid a spoiler, I won't add to my list of his casual cruelties. Technically a beautiful film and an exquisite performance by Fay Compton, but today's audiences would cheer and clap rather than grow misty eyed at the conclusion."Time of the Cuckoo" was then filmed as "Summertime" in 1955 with Katharine Hepburn as the teacher, the seducer (Rossano Brazzi)being somewhat less caddish, thus allowing more poignancy. Then Richard Rodgers, with Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents, turned the plot into the less-than-successful musical. "Do I Hear a Waltz?" Since most older woman today are single by choice and have traveled extensively, we are unlikely to see any further reincarnations of this plot.


Love story set in the Austrian Tyrol stars Ivor Novello (in his last film) as a hotel keeper who falls for an English teacher (Fay Compton) who is on vacation.Compton plays an aging woman (she's 35) who dreams about a mountain village and love. She finds both on her vacation, but her friend (Esme Church) warns her against being silly and ruining her life. Yet Compton is set to "run away" and stay in the village with Novello until she learns his secret.Interesting look at two different cultures and unrequited love. Among the hotel guests are a "modern" unmarried couple who share a room (Jack Hawkins, Diana Beaumont), a vacationing parson and his old-maid sister (George Zucco, Muriel Aked), and a traditional German couple. The story show us the "modern" couple who defy conventions but are snubbed by "polite society." On the other hand we see the "proper" woman who has become a nosy old maid with no life of her own.Will Compton defy convention and stay in the Tyrol with Novello? Or will be pay heed to her friend's advice and go back to England and her job? Fay Compton is excellent as the wavering teacher. She has a lovely scene where she sings a sad English ballad, and she's believable as the woman who knows her chance at love may be her last. Novello is also excellent as the hotelier who wants more love in his life. Despite some awkward rear projections, the film has a nice look and the Austrian mountains are gorgeous. After almost 2 dozen films, this was Novello's final film role.