“Their Finest” Hour and a Half

     In a happy accident (born of trying to escape Alexa’s decision to play heavy metal music instead of a requested BBC show), we discovered “Their Finest,” a British movie from 2016. Beginning with jerky World War II footage of factories full of women making armaments, it settles into the story of Catrin, a young Welsh woman come to London with an artist love interest – and her unexpected transformation into screenwriter. From a book titled “Their Finest Hour and a Half,” it’s a movie about making a movie, about imagination, about women’s work – and about romance, of course.

     In the story, Britain’s Ministry of Information Film Unit wants to make a movie to inspire the war effort, and decides on a fudged (by Catrin) version of a true story about two daring sisters, who nick their drunken father’s boat, and, heroically join the rescue effort at Dunkirk.

It’s fun to see the primitive sets and lights (movie magic being made in the olden days), watch the script being written on the fly using clunky manual typewriters and much verbal sparring (as many cups of tea are drunk from real mugs). Hired to write “slop” (the term for women’s dialogue), Catrin turns out to be more clever by far than her male writing colleagues.

     I enjoy Bill Nighy’s flighty mannerisms, and his role here as a washed-up actor long past fame perfectly suits. He’s charming, old fashioned, and silly, full-of-himself and kind. He takes in hand the non-actor American hired for his good looks, and the hope he might inspire Americans to enter the war.

     “Their Finest” seemed a wonderfully long movie, and we spread it out – grateful during our own scary and uncertain days (unleavened as yet by time and creativity) to have this escape each night. There is joy in Nighy’s version of “Wild Mountain Thyme,” sung around a pub piano with the whole film crew – and joy in the theatre audience’s reaction to the movie.

And joy is good right now.

7 thoughts on ““Their Finest” Hour and a Half

  1. Having just finished “The Splendid and the Vile” this is a welcome invitation to more time in wartime Britain. Your spirited analysis of what we need right now is apt. This will pass, if we live long enough. Carry on, Katy!

    • Thanks for good cheer Bonny! I think you’d enjoy that movie – and while watching, you can’t help making comparisons. People could gather and comfort each other in ways unthinkable now. This is a weird crisis requiring separation. You are right – will pass. We DO need to live long enough to come out the other side!

  2. You’re right. Joy is good right now. I look forward to the movie. I wonder if the book would be worth a read? Love your alphabet cards.

    • I’m curious about the book also – and today’s BookBub (do you know about that? Kindle books for $1.99) offered “Gone to Soldiers,” Marge Piercy – we probably read back in the day but I got it anyway.

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