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THE WHALES OF AUGUST

Director: LINDSAY ANDERSON

U.S.A.| 1987. COLOUR. DOLBY STEREO. 90 MIN.


‘Where’s the old warhorse?’ says Ann Sothern to Lillian Gish. No prizes for guessing who is meant: Bette Davis as Gish’s sister and a permanent fly in the ointment. Dr. Johnson thought life was a state in which much is to be endured and little to be enjoyed, and Davis is sullen endurance compared with Gish’s delicate enjoyment. Vincent Price is also on hand to add to the gently philosophical atmosphere and director Lindsay Anderson’s meditation on old age and the attractive use of the beautiful Maine setting gives the film something of the elegiac quality of late John Ford. If the pacing is leisurely, Bette gives it a welcome shot of vinegar. And she remained feisty to the very end: when Anderson rebuked her on the set for still speaking ill of the long-gone Joan Crawford, Bette snapped back: ‘Just because she’s dead doesn’t mean she’s changed.’


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