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Journeys End 2018

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  • #16
    Sadly, Colin Clive had started to rely on drinking to steady his nerves for the original London stage production of Journey's End. He was also very much personally tortured by the fact that he himself not been able to serve, when many of his peers had, with some of them being amongst the War's casualties.
    I was interested in who in the cast had actually served during the Great War for the James Whale film (apart from Whale himself), and was surprised to find out that basically, seemingly almost none of them had! The Sargent Major, played by Tom Whiteley, did serve in WW1, as a RFC driver/mechanic. and then became an RAF Warrent Officer in Italy during WW2, where he died of a heart attack. Bizarrely, he'd survived the sinking of the Titanic!

    Other than that, the nearest was Colin Clive, who was the son of a colonel, had had gone to Sandhurst, but an injured knee prevented him serving. If you look at the ages of the cast, some of the the younger ones would have just about been eligible for call-up in 1918 (such as Clive), but some would have been no more than 14. True, my grandfather volunteered twice whilst underage, but most didn't.

    And the older ones were perhaps too old. Its a bit like expecting actors appearing as privates in late 50's war films about WW2 to have had combat experience during WW2. Some of them would have, but since the average age of combatants would have been about 21, if you were casting true to age, they would have been about 11 when the war ended. Same goes for eighties Vietnam films - famously the average age of GI's was 19, so making a film in 1986 meant that an actor was born probably after the Tonkin Incident. Whale knew what the war had been about, and so would much of the audience. But the actors, less so.

    Actually, the back story of the cast is fascinating in itself, and Whale's homosexuality was possibly likely for at least some of the casting. Anyone who has seen Gods and Monsters (or simply read Hollywood Babylon) knows that Whale was gay, but I wasn't aware that Colin Clive was rumoured to be bisexual. His tragic drinking may not just have been a result of his injury and his inability to serve.

    David Manners is likely to have been someone Whale might have got to know from the Hollywood gay circuit, since he was apparently 'discovered' by Whale at a Hollywood party in 1927. Even when he married in 1929, there was a 22 year old Filipino man living with them as a 'servant', and the marriage ended in divorce in 1932. Then he met his male partner in 1948, who he was with until his partners death in 1978. In many ways, he reminds me of Billy Hayes, who retired from the screen after being outed, and then had a long and happy life with his partner.

    Gil Perkins sounds very interesting, having run away from home in his native Australia and signing on as a deckhand on a Norwegian cargo ship. He became a stuntman and actor, founded the Stuntmans Association, and was a long-time treasurer of SAG. He was even in Batman!

    A book about the early films of Whale in Hollywood, their casts, and their personal lives sounds like an interesting project for someone. And an academic article about the shadow of the war on British expats in Hollywood would be interesting. Morley's 'Brits in Hollwood' is quite good, but with Ronald Colman, Leslie Howard, Claude Rains, Herbert Marshall, Victor McLaghton, Eric Blore, Clive Brook, Nigel Bruce, Cedric Hardwicke, Charle Laughton, and Basil Rathbone all having served, some of whom were wounded or had shellshock, a view on its after-effects would be welcome.
    Last edited by Bonekicker; 13th February 2018, 05:47 PM.


    • #17
      Thanks for that information.Did you mean William Haines rather than Billy Hays


      • #18
        Did you mean William Haines rather than Billy Hays
        I did! He was often known as Billy, but I mangled his surname whilst not concentrating. A fascinating character, very brave, and I was surprised to find that the company he founded still exists! I will certainly try to track down that MGM podcast, and perhaps Tailor Made Man might be a film one day.


        • #19
          This has been released some weeks ago,and has been discussed here previously.An interesting take on what is now a historical subject.I have already aired the view that the 1930 version benefits from having been made only a few years after the Armistice.