Saturday, 28 May 2011

Hangover Square 1945 with those novels or plays (The Children's Hour, Hangover Square, etc) which have been utterly transmogrified, but made into effective movies... Letter to Frank Taylor April/May 1950

Malc is arguing a case in his letter for the production of his transcript of Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night withstanding the issues of incest in the novel and how problems around difficult subjects have been overcome in other movies including Hangover Square.

Hangover Square (1945) is a film noir directed by John Brahm, based on the novel Hangover Square (1941) by Patrick Hamilton. The screenplay was written by Barré Lyndon who made a number of changes to the novel, including the transformation of George Harvey Bone into a classical composer-pianist and filming the story as a turn-of-the-century period piece.

In Victorian London (the date 1899 is shown in the opening scene), the police suspect that a composer who suffers from periods of amnesia may be a murderer.

The period setting creates a dark mood, especially in the key scene when Bone (portrayed by Laird Cregar), having strangled Netta (Linda Darnell) on Guy Fawkes Night, carries her wrapped body through streets filled with revelers and deposits it on top of the biggest bonfire.

The final scene shows Cregar as Bone, playing his piano concerto (composed by Bernard Herrmann), unmindful of the conflagration around him, as flames consume all.

Hangover Square is a 1941 novel by English playwright and novelist Patrick Hamilton (1904–1962). Subtitled A tale of Darkest Earl's Court it is set in that area of London in 1939.

A black comedy, it is often cited as Hamilton's finest novel, exemplifying the author's concerns over social inequalities, the rise of Fascism and the hovering doom of World War II.

Set against the backdrop of the days preceding Britain declaring war on Germany, the main character is George Harvey Bone, a lonely borderline alcoholic who suffers from a split personality. He is obsessed with gaining the affections of Netta, a failed actress and one of George's circle of "friends" with whom he drinks. Netta is repelled by George but being greedy and manipulative, she and a mutual acquaintance, Peter, shamelessly exploit George's advances to extract from him money and drink.

George suffers from 'dead moods' in which he is convinced he must kill Netta for the way she treats him. Upon recovering from these interludes, he cannot remember them. However outside these he embarks on several adventures, trying in vain to win Netta's affections, including a 'romantic' trip to Brighton which goes horribly wrong (Netta brings Peter and a previously unknown man with whom she has sex in the hotel room next to George's).

Apart from being a source of money and alcohol, Netta's other reason for continuing to associate with George is because of Johnnie. He is one of George's long-time friends who works for a theatrical agent, and Netta hopes that through him she will get to meet Eddie Carstairs, a powerful figure in the theatre. However in a final reversal of fortune it is George, not Netta, who ends up attending a party amongst the theatrical great and good whilst Netta is cast aside by Eddie who (unlike George) has immediately seen her for the unpleasant person she is. George suddenly realises what it is like to be surrounded by 'kind' people who are interested in him as a person rather than what he can provide.

This potentially promising turn of events in George's life is, however, dashed, when he suddenly clicks into a dead mood and resumes his murder plans. He executes his murder of Netta (and also of Peter, whom the narrative describes as a 'Fascist' moments before he is murdered) before escaping to Maidenhead. Throughout the novel, Maidenhead represents for George a semi-mythical new beginning, and representing a picture of traditional Englishness in contrast to the seaminess of Earl's Court. However, in the closing pages of the novel the stark fallacy of that dream becomes apparent to George. It is the same as everywhere else. Now penniless, he gasses himself in a dingy Maidenhead boarding house.

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