Last Holiday (1950 film)
Alec Guinness as George Bird and Helen Cherry as Miss Mellows
|Directed by||Henry Cass|
|Produced by||Associated British Picture
A. D. Peters
|Written by||J. B. Priestley|
|Music by||Francis Chagrin|
|Edited by||Monica Kimick|
|Distributed by||Warner Brothers
Associated British-Pathé, Ltd.
|Release date(s)||3 May 1950|
|Running time||89 min|
|Box office||£109,084 (UK)|
Last Holiday is a 1950 British film featuring Alec Guinness in his sixth starring role. The low-key, dark comedy was written and co-produced by J. B. Priestley and directed by Henry Cass, featuring irony and wit often associated with Priestley.
George Bird (Guinness), an ordinary, unassuming salesman of agricultural implements, visits a physician for a routine check-up and is told he has Lampington's Disease, a newly identified condition which allows him only a few weeks to live. He accepts the doctor’s advice to take his savings and enjoy himself in the little time left to him. A bachelor with no family or friends, Bird decides to spend his last days at an up-market residential hotel among its elite clientele.
Bird’s unassuming attitude generates a great deal of interest among the hotel's residents. He is seen as an enigma to be solved, with wild speculations offered as to his identity and possible noble lineage. The hotel's housekeeper (Walsh) guesses the truth, and Bird confides his secret to her. Bird quickly acquires friends and influence, falls in love (possibly for the first time in his life), sets wrongs to right, and is offered lucrative business opportunities. But these successes only serve to make him reflect on the irony that he will have no time to enjoy them.
During a strike by the hotel's staff, Bird comes into contact with Sir Trevor Lampington (Thesiger), the namesake of the disease which overshadows his recently found happiness. Lampington insists that Bird cannot possibly have the disease. During a trip back to his home town, Bird confirms that he indeed was given the wrong diagnosis. Overjoyed, he is ready to begin life afresh with his new sweetheart, friends and business opportunities. In a twist ending, however, he is killed in a car accident on the way back to the hotel. The hotel guests, having learned the truth about Bird's identity and misdiagnosis, quickly begin to cast aspersions on him, but are interrupted with the news that he has died.
- Alec Guinness as George Bird
- Beatrice Campbell as Sheila Rockingham
- Brian Worth as Derek Rockingham
- Kay Walsh as Mrs. Poole
- Wilfrid Hyde-White as Chalfont
- Sid James as Joe Clarence
- Jean Colin as Daisy Clarence
- Helen Cherry as Miss Mellows
- Muriel George as Lady Oswington
- Esma Cannon as Miss Fox
- Moultrie Kelsall as Sir Robert Kyle
- Bernard Lee as Inspector Wilton
- Coco Aslan as Gambini
- Heather Wilde as Maggie the maid
- Ernest Thesiger as Sir Trevor Lampington
- Eric Maturin as Wrexham
- Campbell Cotts as Cabinet Minister Bellinghurst
- Brian Colton as Prescott (Bellinghurst's assistant)
- Mme. Kirkwood-Hackett as Miss Hatfield
- Ronald Simpson as Dr. Pevensey
- David McCallum as the Fiddler
Other releases and versions
The film was released on VHS in 2000 by Homevision. It was released in DVD format by Janus Films and The Criterion Collection under license from Studio Canal in June 2009, but was dropped from their catalogs in 2011.
- Joe Versus the Volcano, another film about a misdiagnosed protagonist
- The Blue Castle, a novel with a similar plot
- Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p492
- Bosley Crowther (November 14, 1950). "Last Holiday, Written by J.B. Priestley, Stars Alec Guinness as Man Doomed to Die". Retrieved 2012-02-04.