Sunday, 10 November 2013

Joseph Highmore

Self-portrait: Joseph Highmore (detail)
We who live in Melbourne are very fortunate to have on our doorstep the NGV's wonderful collection of portraits, thanks to the bequest of a substantial amount of money by Everard Studley Miller in 1956. That money has now all been spent, but it enabled the NGV over several decades to purchase "portraits of persons of merit in history, painted, sculpted or engraved by 1800", according to the wish of the donor.

The portrait collection includes works by such household names as Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Reynolds, but one of my favourites is Joseph Highmore (1692 – 1780), who is perhaps lesser known today that those luminaries.
Self-portrait: Joseph Highmore

His parents disapproved of his artistic leanings and insisted that he become a solicitor, but at the age of 17, he forsook the law and for the next 50 years he devoted himself to painting.  In 1762, Highmore abandoned painting, retired to Canterbury, and took up writing. He published articles on a variety of subjects, including religion, law and art. He died in 1780 at 88 years of age.

In his heyday Highmore was a highly acclaimed portraitist.  He is reputed to have captured the face of his subject in a single sitting, never retouching it at a later date. He depicted the texture and colour of fabrics with the precision of a Van Dyck, whose work, together with that of Rubens,  he studied when he spent two years in the Low Countries. 



Samuel Booth, Messenger
of the Order of the Bath

In 1725, he was selected to paint the knights of the Order of the Bath in full costume. He was also commissioned to paint Royal portraits, which highlights his high standing among English portraitists.

In addition to his more formal portraits, Highmore also excelled at "conversation pieces", or small informal group portraits, in the manner of Hogarth, although his work is less boisterous and satirical and more refined than Hogarth's.
Mr B finds Pamela writing

In 1744 he painted a series of 12 "conversation piece" illustrations for Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela, the runaway bestseller of its day. Pamela was the first epistolatory novel: a novel written as a series of letters and diary entries, a form which became very popular.

The heroine, Pamela Andrews, is a maid whose master (referred to only as Mr B.) makes unwanted advances towards her. She rejects him until he shows his sincerity by proposing a fair marriage to her. In the second part of the novel, Pamela attempts to accommodate herself to upper-class society and to build a successful relationship with her husband.

The NGV has eight pictures by Joseph Highmore in the collection: the one I like best, is a self-portrait showing Highmore as a professional artist – he is dressed in a blue robe, with a turban taking the place of the wig he would wear on more formal occasions. Through the dramatic lighting he concentrates our attention on his face and the composition leads the eye to his tools of trade, the loaded palette and brushes.
Miss Susanna Highmore

Facing this portrait, is a delightful study of his daughter Susanna, holding a miniature of herself. There is also a portrait of his son Anthony, in the rich red velvet and gold brocade.
Anthony Highmore

In Adelaide I saw a family group by Joseph Highmore at the Art Gallery of SA – his wife Susanna, with the two children. A number of Highmore's works were brought to Australia by a direct descendant of the artist. The NGV acquired most of them – I can't think why they let the family group slip through their fingers.
The artist's wife Susanna, with her
son Anthony and daughter Susanna.
(Art Gallery of South Australia)

However, we mustn't begrudge Adelaide their one Highmore: just in the next room, we have Samuel Booth, Messenger of the Order of the Bath, resplendent in his official robes. The three-quarter length pose is typical of Highmore. The figure looks down at the viewer from a commanding position. The large white wig  was de rigueur for  gentlemen of the era.


The NGV also holds four of the "Pamela" illustrations: Pamela Fainting, Pamela greets her father, Pamela and Mrs Davers and Pamela preparing to go home. The other eight in the series are held in The Tate in London and in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.


Monday, 28 October 2013

Fear and Loathing

Vanitas by Pieter Claeszoon

Having recently enjoyed the Monet exhibition at the NGV and the Australian Impressionists at the Ian Potter, we have had a surfeit of beauty and it is time we balanced it with a dose of the macabre, the chilling and the disturbing. And I don't mean those Renaissance martyrs who piously cast their eyes upward and maintain a saintly smile while they are being neatly and bloodlessly grilled over an open fire, pierced with a dozen arrows or having their eyes plucked out. No, I'm talking Goya, Picasso, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Gleeson: those masters of raw violence and searing agony, lurid images that fascinate as they repel.
A Grotesque Old Woman
by Quinten Massys

Starting on a satirical note, let's look at A Grotesque Old Woman by Quinten Massys. He painted this in 1525 and clearly nothing much has changed in the last 500 years: women still delude themselves that they can dress a chewy mutton chop as a spring lamb cutlet. Massys' old woman didn't have collagen and botox at her disposal, but she gave it her best shot with rich jewels, a fashionable hat and a really disturbing, wrinkly decolletage. Her futile vanity is only emphasized by the huge ears, the wrinkles and the simian features.
Saturn Devouring His Son
by Francisco Goya

Much more macabre is Goya's Saturn Devouring His Son, one of the fourteen "black paintings" that he did in oils, directly onto the walls of the dining and sitting rooms of his house. The plaster was later transferred to canvas and they are now in the Prado. Very frail. After the ravages of the Napoleonic wars, the internal bloody strife in Spain, and his own brushes with death, Goya was depressed, disillusioned and very much aware of his mortality. All of the "black paintings" are intense and haunting, "Saturn" perhaps most of all. It depicts the myth of the Titan Saturn who devoured all his children at birth, because there was a prophesy that one of them would overthrow him. Goya might have meant it as an allegory for the way the turmoil in its own body politic was destroying Spain.
Guernica by Picasso

The horrors of war is a fertile field of inspiration for fearsome and powerful works by great artists: Picasso's harrowing masterpiece, Guernica, shows the tragedy of war and the suffering it inflicts upon innocent civilians. It is a powerful and emotional work, and has deservedly gained a monumental status as an anti-war symbol, a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war. 
The Sower
by James Gleeson

During the 1940s, James Gleeson's work was imbued with images of war and violence. "The Sower" (1944) and "The Citadel" (1945) are fear and loathing personified. The former is a nightmare of distorted body parts, dragon heads, skulls and jagged, toothlike rocks: flesh, scales and rock are all rendered in tones of brown and grey and seem to be of the same substance. I am reminded of the Greek myth of the fierce, cruel warriors who sprang from the earth when dragons' teeth were sown. I imagine that Gleeson's title must refer to the prophet Hosea's strictures on the Israelites' warring with the neighbours: "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." Nothing much has changed in 2000 years, then.
The Citadel
by James Gleeson

Apocalyptic as "The Sower" is, "The Citadel" is more fearsome. The lurid images of mutilated body parts and an eye rimmed with teeth exert a hideous fascination. Rotten teeth chew on an arm, intestines are draped over mounds of cancerous flesh and horrid spiky plants grow at the base, like Triffids feeding on the corruption. Like Goya, Gleeson seems to see the wholesale killing in war as humanity cannibalising itself.
The Blinding of Samson
by Rembrandt

The Samson and Delilah story is a staple of biblical genre painting, but whereas most painters show a drowsy, post-coital Samson having his hair snipped by either Delilah or her henchmen, Rembrandt chooses to run the film past the hair-cutting and freeze the frame where they put Samson's eyes out. The dagger plunges into Samson's eye, his teeth are bared in an agonised scream, his toes are clenched and his whole body distorted in torment.
An Old Man and his Grandson
by Domenico Ghirlandaio

To dispel the taste of fear and loathing, let's end with a picture that leavens grotesquerie with affection: Ghirlandaio's double portrait of an old man, his nose a grotesque mass of bulbous growths, and a boy, presumably his grandson.  The picture is dominated by the noble ruin of the old man's face, in contrast to the perfect and childishly chubby face of the little boy, complete with wavy golden locks. The ravaged old face and the beautiful young one contemplate each other with affection – the painter has unerringly caught a fleeting moment of tenderness.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Two Days in London

Everything in London is expensive – always has been, also a bit shabby and smelly – sometimes when I get a faceful of diesel fumes from a passing bus on a Melbourne street, I am instantly transported to London! Oh, well … after a thousand years I suppose it is entitled to be a bit shabby. I love it all the same.

British Museum great court
Caroline had to be at her conference on the next two days, but she had the Monday afternoon free, so we set off for the British Museum – I wanted to see the new Great Court that they built for the Millennium celebrations. It is very beautiful: enormous and enclosed by a glass dome. All marble and pillars and huge statues: I waited for two hundred slaves to appear pulling a gold pyramid with Elizabeth Taylor sitting on top, but sadly that didn't happen. Must have been the wrong day.


British Museum reading room
The refurbished round Reading Room, which is now also open to the public, is lovely with the huge domed ceiling, all ivory, blue and gold. One can imagine Karl Marx sitting there in his beard and gaiters, scribbling away at that very boring Commie handbook Das Kapital. Making full use of the excellent free capitalist facilities.

We didn't have much time, but managed to swing past all the old favourites: the seated Pharaohs; the great Assyrian winged lions; the Rosetta stone; the stolen marbles, marvellously displayed on a faux Parthenon …

I'm sorry we didn’t have more time to spend in the Manuscript Room – I love the exercise books in which Jane Austen and Beatrix Potter and Lewis Caroll wrote the books we know and love. The music manuscripts don't do much for me because I can't read music so it's no good telling me Mozart wrote that bit in his own hand, but I really like to see Henry VIII's letters to Anne Boleyn even though I can read them about as well as I can Mozart's music. The man had a vile handwriting and judging by the transcription alongside, he had serious spelling problems as well. As did they all.

One of my favourites is the signature of the first Elizabeth – maybe the second Liz would have had fewer discipline problems in her family had she copied it – a woman with a signature like that does not get backchat from anyone – it is the sort of signature that gets put on the death warrants of the recalcitrant. Ask Cousin Mary.

That evening we went to the Strand Theatre to see Arsenic and Old Lace, an oldie but a goodie. It had Michael Richards (Kramer from Seinfeld) not in the Cary Grant role but playing the heavy, complete with facial scars and slicked-down hair. He was v good, couldn’t resist doing the Kramer thing occasionally, as when unexpectedly stumbling upon a corpse.

We had a good time. Caroline had a vacant seat in front of her while I had to peer past a huge guy with Kramer hair and clutching a bulging laundry bag on his lap, but he left during the first interval and didn't come back. May have been arrested – who knows what was in the laundry bag.

Barb in the forecourt
of Somerset House
On the Tuesday I had lunch at Somerset House with Barb, who is lucky enough to work there. She was a lovely teenager when she worked at the library with me, and she is a lovely young woman now. She took me to the lunchtime talk at the Courtauld, just a 15-minute talk by one of the curators. That week it was about Dutch religious art and the curator discussed a triptych featuring the Virgin and Child with Sts Catherina (with the wheel) and Lucia (carrying her eyes on a saucer) on the side panels. I found it particularly interesting as I had seen so much of that art in various churches during the previous few weeks, and I don't really know all that much about what I am looking at – it is so fraught with symbolic meaning.

After lunch, Barb took me into the Courtauld as a guest, flashing her staff card, and then she went back to her lair to resume her duties. I spent a happy couple of hours renewing my acquaintance with the collection and checking out the new acquisitions.

There is a roomful of Kandinskys that I found most fascinating because it covered his entire painting career – one is so accustomed to the pink and red circles that it comes as a surprise to see the lovely little landscapes he painted in 1904. Just as I am always surprised to see realistic Picassos and realise that that man could really draw!

All the usual impressionist suspects are still there … Renoir's theatre-goer in the stripes and Manet's Luncheon on the Grass – one has grown so used to seeing them on posters and coasters that it is almost a shock to be confronted with the originals. The originals of well-known images are never the size one imagined them to be and the colours are never the same. It is impossible to reproduce anything faithfully (unless your name is Han van Meegeren!)

Had dinner with Stephen and Natalie at the ubiquitous Indian restaurant – my friend Maarten used to say there is a central vat of curry somewhere under London, with pipes laid on to all the little Indian places – the local guy just squirts on an extra dash of chili if you ask for vindaloo.

Charlie Chaplin
in Leicester Sq
Next day I didn't have much time at my disposal – had to meet Caroline in the arvo to go back to Heathrow, so I had a bit of a stroll round my old haunts, sat in Leicester Square with my lunch sarnie, contemplating the Bard on his pedestal and the Little Tramp who faces him. I wonder what they make of each other – after all Shakespeare was an actor too, and Chaplin wrote a lot of his own screenplays, so maybe they have a lot to talk about.

Had a quick look in at the National Portrait Gallery, just to nod hello to my favourites: Rupert Brooke, Lord Byron and The Duke of Wellington.

Rupert Brooke
I also checked out the current exhibition, called British Blondes. It was good fun and I especially liked the caption next to Princess Diana, which said: "… like Mrs Thatcher's, her hair got steadily more golden as her fame increased."

Edith Cavell
The saintly nurse Edith Cavell is still standing outside the Portrait Gallery, telling us that patriotism is not enough and that she has no bitterness in her heart … she is a better woman than I: eighty years of diesel fumes and tourist graffiti would have made me extremely bitter. Henry Irving round the corner just looks down his nose with fine disdain and doesn't pretend to forgive anybody, especially not any actors who thought they could do a better Hamlet.

Henry Irving
Then I spent a happy couple of hours in the National Gallery, ambling through the majestic rooms, sitting down to contemplate old favourites, squinting sideways at Holbein's Ambassadors to see the op art skull in the foreground, and generally amusing myself by eavesdropping.

When I worked at the S-Afr Embassy in the early seventies, I spent half an hour in the Gallery every lunchtime and there were a few uniformed attendants drifting in and out. Now they have two stationed in every room, one at each end. What are they expecting? Suicide paint-throwers?

That was it for my two-day London excursion – not much time but I crammed in what I could. Caroline says her two-day course on Tax was good and she learned a lot, (mainly that they do things differently in America.) I reckon my two days were better spent than hers.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

A Letter from Germany

Cologne Cathedral
Here we are in Cologne, sampling the local delicacies as you do. I drew the line at pork knuckle but I did give the bratwurst and sauerkraut a go, not to mention the kartofflen. I even drank a local beer, much to my liver's surprise. It hasn't had to cope with alcohol since the Eisenhower adminstration.

Our hotel is right by the cathedral, an enormous edifice. I have seen a cathedral or two but never one as huge as this one - the one in Barcelona may run it a fairly close second. Inside it is not as beautiful as Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk in Antwerp, but it does have some lovely windows and a few other amazing features.

The Schmuck Madonna
My favourite is the Shmuck Madonna. Yes, indeed. The Schmuck Madonna. No typo. She allegedly performs miracles and there were indeed a number of schmucks in her chapel, lighting candles and no doubt placing their orders for the miracle of their choice. Mazel tov. 

Down in the bowels of the earth below the cathedral they have the treasure vault with the usual complement of lavishly bejewelled vestments and regalia and reliquaries. I like a good reliquary.  You wouldn't want to be a bishop in the Middle Ages: no sooner do you breathe your last or they pop you into a cauldron in the back yard and boil you down so they can sell bits of your bones to cathedrals all over the christian world to put in their reliquaries.

In various cathedrals over the years I have seen the Holy Blood on a bit of cloth, bits of the True Cross and little glass vials with drops of the Virgin's milk,  and I have seen various bishops' knuckle bones and leg bones, but Cologne cathedral trumps them all. They have got a thorn from the Crown of Thorns, the head of St Sebastian (Allegedly: can't see that, it is inside a gold reliquary in the shape of a head, yuck!) and the p de resistance, the bones of  all three wise men! Again allegedly: they are in a gold reliquary in a chapel behind bars so you have to take their word for it. Allegedly brought back from Jerusalem by the Crusaders. (Why did the wise men not go home after the Bethlehem Stable Visit? Why were they still there, or at least their bones, 1200 years later when the crusaders showed up? Who gave or sold them to the crusaders?)
The reliquary allegedly containing
the bones of the Three Wise Men
I would like to see them submit all this blood and milk and bones to DNA testing and carbon dating. Never mind the thorn. Saw no tooth fairy, but there was a saint in a stained glass window who bore an amazing resemblance to Santa. Red robe, beard and all. 

Saw pictures of how Cologne looked in 1945 after the RAF had done their worst and it was not a pretty sight. In clearing up and digging foundations for new buildings, they uncovered the foundations of the Roman city. We went to the Roman museum today. It is amazing, the most beautiful mosaic pavements, the statues and stuff, but I was particularly impressed by the jewellery - would not be out of place in a modern jewellery shop.
Roman jewellery

I wish I understood more German or they would deign to label stuff in English too. We got to go underground to see the Roman buildings. High "wow!" factor.

They also found some Frankish graves from the 4th and 5th centuries - Royal graves of the Meringovian lot. Clovis, the one whose sons are drifting away on the raft in that painting in the NSW gallery of Art ... his family. Amazing the stuff they buried with them.

Saw the Wallraff-Richartz Museum, small collection but some lovely stuff by Rembrandt, also a small but excellent Impressionist collection and a scary Edvard Munch - the four little doomed girls on the bridge. Showpiece is a collection of drawings by Goya of bullfights, and a similar series by Picasso, 150 years later. Those two old Spaniards knew their stuff. Absolutely entrancing.
Edvard Munch

I wanted to buy the book of the museum, but it is only in German. Every other museum has their book in a choice of languages! The herrenvolk doesn't bother.

We have bought some cologne - can't come to Cologne and not buy the old 4711! I am not buying a cuckoo clock. Why are they pushing cuckoo clocks? Isn't that Switzerland's job?

Tomorrow we are going to fahrt on the Rhine. A lot of  fahrting goes on in Germany. They Infahrt and Ausfahrt and some places you have to buy a ticket to fahrt.

 Till next time!  


A Kerfuffle in the Poultry Yard


The Poultry Yard by Melchior d'Hondecoeter

is one of my NGV favourites.  I am a sucker for pictures of poultry and whereas I can't afford even a small Hondecoeter, I am lucky enough to own a delightful little chook watercolour by Pat Cox, which gives me a lot of pleasure. However, very few painters are  in the same league as Melchior when it comes to poultry.  He is to feathers what Anthony van Dyck is to silk and satin: nobody does it better.


Many Dutch and Flemish painters of the Golden Age specialised in birds. Dead ones. They turned out endless numbers of still lifes featuring fruit and veg and dead poultry. Dead rabbits too, for good measure. Very realistic job they did, I'm not complaining.

But Melchior d'Hondecoeter, bless him, would have no truck with poultry about to be plucked and casseroled. His birds are not only alive, but by golly, they have a social life! They quarrel, they gossip, they cuddle tenderly, they strut arrogantly.

He liked to place his birds in park-like settings, often with a bit of statuary thrown in. He painted not only domestic fowls and poultry, but exotic birds which the Dutch merchant ships brought back from their new colonies in Africa, America and the East Indies. Peacocks, pelicans and parrots grace his canvases along with geese, hens and fighting cocks.
 

Hondecoeter was a very successful and prolific artist. His paintings are held in galleries around the world, but the first exhibition of a collection of his work was in 2010 at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, when the Dutch artist Willem de Rooij put together an installation he called "Intolerance, a three-dimensional collage". He juxtaposed 18 of Hondecoeter's bird paintings with a group of 18th century feathered objects from Hawaii: rather creepy masks, robes and heads associated with the religious practices of the indigenous people.  I skimmed lightly over the Hawaiian objects and enjoyed Melchior's birds. 

Next time you are at the NGV, have a look at the kerfuffle in the poultry yard: the hen is clearly giving that duck a piece of her mind!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

The French Connection

The Green Parasol by E. Phillips Fox
The Monet blockbuster at the NGV International has rather overshadowed the magnificent exhibition of Australian Impressionists currently showing at the Ian Potter Gallery. No long queues and jostling crowds here. They're all across the road goggling at Monet.

The exhibition is called "Australian Impressionists in France", but it should really be called "Australian and French Impressionists in France and Australia". Although predominantly Australian, the artists on show include French, British and American masters. The 120 works are sourced from various international galleries, private collections and from all the major Australian art galleries.

Ambrose Patterson
The theme of the exhibition is how expat Australian artists became part of the international community of artists who lived and worked in France from the 1880s to the beginning of the 20th century. France was the hub of the art universe, and those years changed the course of art.

E. Phillips Fox
We are told of friendships that developed: Monet dined with John Russell and they painted together; Charles Conder trawled the nightclubs with Toulouse-Lautrec, where they sketched, drank absinthe and contracted the syphilis that killed them both.

I liked the way the curator juxtaposed works with similar subjects by different painters: street scenes by Pisarro and Ambrose Patterson; nudes by E.Phillips Fox and Pierre Bonnard; seascapes by Monet and John Russell.

The paintings depict not only Parisian scenes, but find a wealth of subject matter in the countryside - no shortage of haystacks and peasants, orchards and cottages. The French countryside is very beautiful - it is the only reason I watch that bunch of drug-addled cheats on the Tour de France.

Some of my favourites in the show are by women: Jane Sutherland, Bessie Davidson and Ethel Carrick among others. I have always thought it a shame that Ethel Carrick's work is so overshadowed by that of her husband, Phillips Fox, and I agree with Grace Carroll that that says more about attitudes to women than about her artistic talent.

This marvellous exhibition is still on until 6 October 2013 - plenty of time to pay it a visit and see for yourself all the delights that I have no room to describe here.

Having spent a pleasant couple of hours at the Ian Potter with the painters, I went next door to ACMI to visit the Thespians. The Hollywood Costume exhibition is a real treat for movie fans.

I loved it all - Scarlett's green velvet curtain dress, Holly's little black number, Dorothy's blue gingham, Superman suspended from the ceiling in full flight, wearing his underpants outside his leotards as usual. That's what happens when you change in a hurry in a phone booth.

There was the Meryl Streep area: the French lieutenant's woman in her cloak, the Devil in her Prada, Lindy in her pink sundress (sans baby). There was the Queen Elizabeth area: the Flora Robson, the Bette Davis and the Cate Blanchett, each more opulent than the last. And the very best one … Hedy Lamarr's magnificent peacock dress from Samson and Delilah. Edith Head's masterpiece!

Oh, the glamour. And oh, what tiny waists all those women had!

The show closes on 18th August. Last chance to see!

 

Friday, 7 June 2013

One Thing Leads To Another

 
I am rather partial to a whodunnit and I always like the ones who cast a real person as the amateur detective. Stephanie Barron has Jane Austen doing a Regency era Miss Marple; Jane Laurence gets Canaletto to combine painting with sleuthing. Elliott Roosevelt sets his mysteries in the Roosevelt White House with First Lady Eleanor (the author's mother in real life) doing
the sleuthing. In Karen Harper's delightful historical detective stories, the first Queen Elizabeth solves the mysteries, and I have even read a short story by Peter Lovesey where Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson team up to solve the mystery of Glamis Castle. Groucho Marx, Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Bette Davis … any number of real characters have done some fictional sleuthing!

So I was delighted when a friend recommended Nicola Upson, whose  detective novels set in the 1930s feature Josephine Tey as the amateur sleuth. The first one I read, was Fear in the Sunlight: Miss Tey finds herself in the picturesque Welsh coastal village of Portmeirion, among a bunch of Hollywood stars, film crew and assorted celebrities. Among the hotel guests are Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma, who make Miss Tey an offer for the film rights to her book A Shilling for Candles.

Two rather gruesome murders are committed and after some suitably Hitchcockian twists and turns of the plot, elegantly solved. Miss Tey sells A Shilling for Candles to Hitchcock despite her misgivings that her book will be butchered by the Hollywood scriptwriters. In an epilogue Josephine tells a friend that Hitchcock based his film Young and Innocent on it. And yes, as she suspected, the plot and characters took a battering.


I enjoyed Fear in the Sunlight, and it led to my looking up the fascinating history of Portmeirion, which didn't just grow like other villages: it was designed in 1925 and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the style of an Italian village. It is now owned by a charitable trust. In the 20s and 30s it was a very fashionable resort, patronised by the Bright Young Things and by celebrities who had actually accomplished something for which to be celebrated. Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit there.
I also rummaged among my old books to find the yellowing copy of A Shilling for Candles, in which I was  amused to see my name on the flyleaf in a schoolgirly hand. How embarrassing - I used purple ink in my fountain pen. Oh, well, I was a teenager and heavily into Marie Corelli at the time. A Shilling for Candles is still an intriguing mystery, if a bit dated … everybody smokes and wears hats!

After reading that, I had to get the DVD of Young and Innocent out of the library, just to see how Alfred Hitchcock sliced and diced the book. Vintage early Hitchcock … his hallmark plot of innocent man on the run with his girlfriend, while trying to discover the real criminal. Sound familiar? Yes, we've all seen The 39 Steps, North by Northwest and The Wrong Man! This one is a bit of an underrated gem, and worth a look. Lots of suspense and a few splendidly Hitchcockian sequences, like an elaborate crane shot near the end, quite groundbreaking for its time. I nearly missed the Hitchcock cameo, but spotted him after all, standing outside the courthouse with a camera.
Josephine Tey
Now that I have exhausted all the side tracks that Fear in the Sunlight led to, I'm ready for my next Nicola Upson!