Charles Frend‘s 1954 film took as its basis from a serious domestic subject. Lease of Life concerns a Yorkshire vicar given twelve months to live, and the effect this has on his faith and his family. Robert Donat played the central character with his usual care, overcoming the drawbacks of his theatrical technique by sheer strength of personality. Kay Walsh as his wife had to cope with a somewhat implausible part, as Eric Ambler’s screenplay failed to supply sufficient motivation for her to misappropriate £100 left in the vicar’s care, and Adrienne Corri, a sensitive and beautiful actress who had made an exotic debut in Jean Renoir’s The River, seemed palpably miscast as the daughter who wants to take up a London piano scholarship.
A more central weakness in the film is that a controversial sermon which plays a crucial part in the plot is unremarkable even by the standards of the day, and it is hard to see why, except for plot purposes, it should have caused offence. But in spite of these reservations, Lease of Life was a sensitively organised film, admirably sketching in the routine of a North Country vicar’s daily round in a rural parish, and the EastmanColour photography by Douglas Slocombe succeeded in evoking the pastoral English charm of the settings. Although by no means a film to he ashamed of, Lease of Life lacked a quality that could have made it, by virtue of its theme, distinguished. —Britmovie.co.uk
Charles Frend (21 November 1909, Pulborough, Sussex – 8 January 1977) was an English film director.
Charles Frend started his career at British International Pictures in 1931 and after editing Hitchcock’s Waltzes from Vienna (1934) moved to Gaumont British Pictures in 1933 where he worked as an editor on Alfred Hitchcock’s movies Secret Agent (1936), Sabotage (1936) and Young and Innocent (1937).
For several years, Frend was based at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s British facilities at Elstree, where he edited MGM’s A Yank at Oxford (1938), The Citadel (1938) and Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939). Frend graduated to director in 1942, with a series of above-average propaganda pictures and documentaries. After the war, he undertook several prestigious assignments including Scott of the Antarctic (1948) and The Cruel Sea (1953).
While most of his films were large-scale and dramatic in nature, Frend was also capable of turning out such modest comedies as A Run for Your Money (1949) and… read more