I’ll Turn To You (1946)
When Roger Meredith, a soldier, who has been serving his country in the Far East, returns home after the war, he was not prepared for how the war might have affected him. He struggles to cope being back in Civvy Street and both he and his wife have to try to adjust to a life together again. But after being apart for so long, and with other interests towards his wife becoming obvious, pressures build and force decisions. Will Roger be able to hold his marriage together or should he let go?
Filmed at Nettlefold Studios, Walton-Upon-Thames in 1946, this drama with music was a British attempt to create a film with substance about the mental health issues of soldiers during their readjustment to civilian life after the war. Butchers Film Services unfortunately didn’t have the kind of Hollywood budgets to draw big-star names or elaborate locations filming. It had to rely on simplistic storytelling. This sometimes scored them a hit. So the film progressed with music and song added hoping to make their ‘B’ film into an ‘A’ feature in the eyes of the British cinema-going public. This was one of these occasions.
Don Stannard (1916-1949), who plays the lead role of Roger Meredith, was a RADA-trained light leading man. The actor, who was the son of a banker, advanced to the limelight after being spotted by MGM chief Louis B. Mayer whilst on a visit to England. He then appeared in a few British-based MGM productions, before his career was put on hold due to wartime service in the Royal Navy. He re-emerged after his five-year stint, starring as tough secret agent Dick Barton in a trio of films under the banner of Hammer studios. Sadly the series died with Stannard’s own tragic demise in a car accident on July 9 1949, as he was on his way home from the wrap party of Dick Barton at Bay, released the following year.
Welsh actress Terry Randall takes the role of Aileen Meredith in her fifth film role. Born in 1914 in Cardiff as Pamela Bielski, she played mostly in ‘B’ films and is mostly remembered for her role in School for Randle (1949) and BBC Sunday Night Theatre (1950). In many of her films her surname dropped a letter and she was billed as Terry Randal.
The supporting cast work well within the storyline. Irene Handl (1901-1987) – the most beloved of character actresses – is a scene stealer as Mrs Gammon, while George Merritt (1890-1977) shows his dependability as Cecil Joy. Also notable are Nicolette Roeg (1925-1987) who started her career in films but quickly progressed to stage and television and the Birmingham based character actor Leslie Perrins (1901-1962) who had a long career which began in silent films in 1928.
It is also notable that (uncredited) Evelyn Laye appears as herself.
The beautiful soundtrack is enhanced by featuring the London Symphony Orchestra with vocalists John McHugh and Sylvia Welling, along with the Choir of the Welsh Guards, Albert Sandler with his Palm Court Orchestra – the Andre Rieu of his day – and the radio organist, Sandy McPherson.
Usually associated with cinematography on such films as The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and Village of the Damned (1960), Geoffrey Faithful (1893-1979) tries his hand at directing resulting in a drama that is both thought provoking and sensitively told. He directed only two films, the other being For You Alone (1945), preferring to be filming the scenes. Geoffrey had started in the industry with Hepworth Studios in 1908, becoming a full director of photography by 1913. As a cinematographer he made 201 films in his career and is today esteemed as a British pioneer cinematographer.
Viewed today, the film has an overall feel of a thirties feature. There is insufficient music and song for the film to be classed as a musical, more a drama with music. It is by no means a classic of its era, but none the less important for students of film and those that enjoy a black and white film with some good performances in this keenly acted film with a score to match, which will provide the viewer with a lively entertainment.
Directed By – Geoffrey Faithfull
Terry Randall – Aileen Meredith
Don Stannard – Roger Meredith
Harry Welchman – Mr. Collins
Ann Codrington – Mrs. Collins
George Merritt – Cecil Joy
Irene Handl – Mrs. Gammon
Ellis Irving – Henry Browning
Nicolette Roeg – Flora Fenton
Anthony Pendrell – Dick Fenton
Leslie Perrins – Leslie Perrins
Year of Production 1946
Running Time: 92 mins approx
Black and White
Sound: Dual Mono