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July 2011

Don't Ever Leave Me

cast: : Petula Clark, Anthony Newley, Jimmy Hanley, Hugh Sinclair, and Edward Rigby

director: Arthur Crabtree

80 minutes (U) 1949
Odeon DVD Region 2

RATING: 5/10
review by Ian Sales

Don't Ever Leave Me

When petty crook Harry Denton (Edward Rigby) gets out of prison, he's determined to come up with some scheme to make him rich. Kidnapping seems the best bet, and it's not long before he fastens on the teenage daughter of famous actor Michael Farlaine (Hugh Sinclair) as a suitable victim. So he telephones Farlaine's house pretending to be the actor, who is at the theatre, and tells the housekeeper he is sending a car for his daughter. Harry duly turns up in Farlaine's limo, which he stole from the theatre, and picks up Sheila (Petula Clark). She sees straight through him almost immediately, but that doesn't matter because she's bored staying at home all the time and wants to be kidnapped.

Unfortunately, Harry's grandson, Jack (Jimmy Hanley), a car salesman, is extremely unhappy when he learns of the situation - especially since his grandfather is staying with him, so that's where Harry has brought Shirley. Also, Jack and his girlfriend, the boss' daughter, Joan (Barbara Murray), have fallen out. So all the running around out on the town Jack now finds himself doing - trying to keep Sheila entertained after she blackmails him into compliance - isn't helping. Also not helping Jack, though helping the kidnap plan, is that the receipts for Farlaine's Shakespeare season were dropping, but the kidnap of his daughter has put him on the front page and driven up attendance. So he wants Sheila to stay kidnapped as long as possible. Further poisoning the plot is the obnoxious teenage nephew, Jimmy Knowles (Anthony Newley), of the Farlaine's neighbour. He's figured out the plot is all a scam, and he wants in.

It's all light-hearted and a little bit silly, though it's played as gentle farce rather than outright comedy. Petula Clark, 16 or 17 when the film was made, plays a role a year or so younger, and it's a little disturbing when she starts playing up to Jack, a man double her age, and he takes her out on the town to night-clubs and bars. Of course, it was a more innocent time, then - two world wars notwithstanding - and Shirley does little more than sweetly ask if Jack will "wait for her." The age-difference, of course, will still be there after she's come of age, but she considers that no handicap. Fortunately, Jack is still set on marrying Joan and, with Shirley's help; he manages to save that relationship (so much so that Joan becomes a willing helper in the whole scheme).

Everything ends happily - as, of course, such things must. Farlaine deigns to recognise his daughter as more than just a household ornament. Shirley gets the excitement she craves. Jack gets Joan, and vice versa. Harry extricates himself from the whole mess without serving time again. Don't Ever Leave Me is no lost classic of British cinema or Ealing comedy, but it's an entertaining piece of postwar fluff and will keep viewers diverted for 80 minutes. Job done!



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