Village of Daughters (UK, 1962)
Directed by George Pollock. Written by David Pursall, Jack Sheddon. Photography, Geoffrey Faiththfull. Editing, Tristam Cones. Music, Ron Goodwin. Cast: Eric Sykes, Scilla Gabel , John Le Mesurier, Grégoire Aslan , Warren Mitchell, Anthony Morton, Eric Pohlmann, Edwin Richfield, Yvonne Romain, et al. An MGM-UA production. Black and white.
George Pollock is a minor British filmmaker who was assistant director on several high-class movies of the 1940s, starting with Gaslight (1940) and going on to such works as Pimpernel Smith, Spitfire, The Demi-Paradise, Blithe Spirit. Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, The Browning Version(1951). All of the above are excellent features.
He then became a full-fledged director of a dozen pictures in the 50s and 60s. These were not memorable, with the huge exception of a set of four detection comedies: Murder she Said, Murder at the Gallop, Murder Ahoy, and Murder Most Foul. These were Agatha Christie mysteries in which the sleuth was Miss Marple. All starred the quirky, unforgettable and irreplaceable Margaret Rutherford, then in her 70s. With her bulk, odd diction, mannerisms and colorful eccentricities, Miss Rutherford stole the scenes, the show and the audiences' hearts. She later became a Dame of the British Empire.
Pollock directed those works with unabated vigor and humor. The films, most entertaining as well as unpretentious, had excellent supporting casts. Another, major asset was provided by Ron Goodwin's jaunty, original and memorable music scores. These became a trademark of the films.
Alas, Village of Daughters is in a far lower level than the Miss Marple bonbons. It is headed by Eric Sykes whose comedic skills were appreciated in England but who remains almost unknown in the USA. Village also has a few good performers, familiar supporting/character British actors such as John Le Mesurier, as the local priest, or Gregoire Aslan, as the mayor and father of pretty and marriageable Anunciata. Aslan, Swiss-born and of Armenian descent, has appeared in dozens of films, many of the French but several too from the European Continent and the USA. A chameleon player, he played men of many professions and nationalities, including Arabs, Italians and Greeks.
In Village, however, neither the main nor the supporting characters are memorable. The plot is simplistic. In a Sicilian village, there are many single girls but a scarcity of males. The latter have emigrated to seek their fortune. Suddenly comes the news (which the postman, of course, reads first) of the coming of an envoy from abroad, a man delegated to select a bride for a now-wealthy ex-villager. Eric Sykes, playing a down-and-out salesman, is mistaken for the envoy. Complications ensue. They are generally neither original nor funny.
The Brits who play Sicilians are unconvincing--but the made-in-England Sicilian setting is better. The score by Ron Goodwin is mediocre.
The subject and its treatment were already ourdated by 1962 standards.