Movies

Maytime in Mayfair (British Lion 1949, Anna Neagle, Michael Wilding)

Maytime In Mayfair

Spring in Park Lane took more money at the British box office in 1948 than any other picture and leads Anna Neagle and Michael Wilding jointly won the Daily Mail National Film Awards for the year after, having come second in the poll in the previous two years.

In Maytime In Mayfair Producer/ director Herbert Wilcox sensibly repeated the formula and reunited the stars to highly enjoyable effect for another glamorous, light-hearted romantic musical which was spryly scripted by Nicholas Phipps, who had also written the screenplay for Spring in Park Lane. The Sunday Chronicle got rather excited calling Maytime in Mayfair “a worthy successor,” the heady, already proven ingredients “commingle as happily as sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and gin. On, Mr Wilcox, to Winter in Wapping!”.

Neagle was in her element as the designer-director of the famous Mayfair fashion house inherited by debonair man-about-town Wilding. Their main rival is Peter Graves, who runs a nearby salon and is trying to put them out of business. Wilding’s cousin, Nicholas Phipps, advises him to sell but, after one short meeting with Neagle, he abandons the idea. Naturally, he and Neagle fall in love, but their road to romance runs onto the rocks when Graves is accidentally given the details of Neagle’s secret designs for the new season by a drunken Phipps. She jumps to the conclusion that Wilding is the person responsible for the leak and leaves his employ, going to work for Graves. But she learns how he obtained the information about her designs and goes back to Wilding just in time to prevent him from selling the business and, after all is forgiven, they make plans for a wedding…

Wilcox’s glossy direction showcased his wife Neagle with attractive and glossy production values, including a Goldwyn-style mannequin parade of fashion featuring designs by such then-celebrated couturiers as Hartnell, Molyneux and Stiebel. There was bright Technicolor cinematography by Max Greene, and Wilcox had no trouble in making the most of the slim but, in the context, eminently suitable story.

UK / British Lion – Imperadio / 95 minutes / 1949 Filmed in Technicolor

Writer: Nicholas Phipps / Cinematography: Max Greene / Musical Director: Robert Farnon / Producer and Director: Herbert Wilcox

Cast: Anna Neagle, Michael Wilding, Peter Graves, Nicholas Phipps, Thora Hird, Michael Shepley, Tom Walls, Desmond Walter-Ellis