The street performers of London were a delightful bunch of people that eked out a living by doing what came to them naturally: singing, dancing, reciting poetry, or just plain entertainment, directed at the crowds of the West End of London. They belong in a time capsule. The buskers were a local phenomenon.
I discovered this forgotten film at the CUNY cinematheque. It is a film that shows the talents of the young Vivien Leigh, Rex Harrison and more established stars like Charles Laughton. In Tim Whelan's film they all come alive in this tale of an impossible love story.
The star turn of Vivien Leigh in the movie is just incredible. Not only could she act, but she was an accomplished dancer as well. Charles Laughton is perfect as the man who is vain enough not to admit to his own age because of the disparity between him and his beloved Libby. There are other delightful performances by Tyrone Guthrie, Larry Adler and other English theatre actors of that era.
This film should be seen, or at least shown on television more often.
Sidewalks of London
Sidewalks of London
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Street performers, aka buskers, are an integral part of the fabric of London's West End, they who have a captive audience in those waiting in line at cinemas or theaters, they dependent upon the generosity of those in line for their livelihood. They are also in view of the "legitimate" performers, namely the actors, such as Jan Duchesi, rushing to/from the theaters at which they are among the cast of the latest hit play or musical. Approaching age forty, Charles Staggers is one of those buskers who has probably seen better days but has lost none of the enthusiasm for what he does. He has changed his act as his mood has suited him, he most recently having converted from being a ventriloquist to now reciting the classics, performing in cooperation with his friends Arthur Smith and Gentry who are a musical duet. One evening, he has more than one altercation with a young woman. His negative view of her, late teen Liberty or Libby, changes when he learns her situation: that she is an orphan, is homeless currently squatting in a house for rent, but probably most importantly that she can sing and dance. He is able to convince not only Libby, but also Arthur and Gentry, that they should put together a new act, which does become a song and dance routine. Their act catches the attention of stage composer Harley Prentiss, who "unknowingly" was also robbed by Libby that same evening. In their quaint act, he sees one star, namely Libby. In Harley whisking her away, Libby, reverting back to Liberty as her stage name, is on her next step to stardom, seemingly putting Charles and the street life behind her. The question then becomes if Charles in particular can recover from this change as he in the process fell in love with Libby, who he wanted to marry.
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