Oil on canvas.
Oil on canvas.
“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government – every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.
“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
— Winston Churchill, in his speech to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, June 4, 1940.
Silkscreen color print on posterboard. Works Progress Administration.
I’ve got these guys running all over my neighborhood after dark every night. (I’m referring to deer — not staffers for the pre-WWII Works Progress Administration.)
“… Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.”
— from W.H. Auden’s “In Memory of W.B. Yeats,” 1940
“I may not understand much about politics and I have no ambition to do so, but I do have some feeling for what is right and what is wrong. That has nothing to do with politics or nationality.”
— Sophie Scholl, member of the White Rose resistance movement in Germany, in a letter to Fritz Hartnagel, May 1940
Scratch one thing off the bucket list — I finally got around to watching Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca.” (A cinephilic uncle introduced me to a handful of the director’s better known classics when I was an adolescent — “Rebecca” was one that we never got around to.) Based on my own enjoyment of it, I’d rate this film an 8 out of 10.
Please bear in mind that this is one of the slower Hitchcock films. Until its plot accelerates toward its end, it spends much of its running length as a methodically paced, brooding Gothic romance and mystery. It’s also a psychological thriller, and you can tell that Hitchcock is working to translate onto the screen its character-focused source novel. (I haven’t read Daphne du Maurier’s eponymous 1938 book.)
“Rebecca’s” final act brings the viewer into familiar Hitchcock territory with some interesting surprises. What I liked best about seeing the director’s style, however, was his trademark sharp characters and dialogue — with both heroes and villains sparring in a dry-witted and rapid-fire fashion. It’s something you don’t often see today. I don’t think all old movies are like this — some of the “classics” I’ve been recommended are absolutely vapid. But Hitchcock treated his viewer as intelligent adults, and I think it’s part of the reason why people love him.