Nothing But the Best (1964)

February 8th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Clive Donner | Writer: Frederic Raphael | Cast: Alan Bates, Denholm Elliott, Harry Andrew’s, Millicent Martin | UK Drama 99’

A full six decades ago it was already becoming evident that filmmakers with serious aspirations had tired of black & white kitchen sink dramas; demonstrated here by the approving depiction of the amoral ascent from austerity to affluence of estate agent Jimmy Brewster (played by Alan Bates in what the Allans’ described as “perhaps the finest British comedy performances of the decade”) compared with just five years earlier when that of Joe Lampton in ‘Room at the Top’ had been viewed with prim Calvinist distaste.

Although now grievously neglected Clive Donner’s film remains of lasting importance as the British cinema’s major contribution to the satire boom of the early sixties (with a debt to the French New Wave apparent from the liberal use of iris outs and horizontal wipes, while the presence of Millicent Martin, Bernard Levin and William Rushton remind you that this was the era of ‘That Was the Week That Was’).

In larger supporting roles Denholm Elliot sends up the louche entitlement of the sort of fellow he played straight ten years earlier something rotten; while Pauline Delaney plays the landlady every man wishes he’d had as a youngster. @RichardChatten

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