VIDEO PROMOTIONAL REVIEW:
This was to be Rank Organisation's biggest musical extravaganza ever when they invited Hollywood producer/director Wesley Ruggles to descend on the Pinewood Studios and deliver a musical to rival Hollywood's best. The man that directed the Oscar winning Best Picture of 1931, the western "Commaron"; the Mae West comedy/musical "I'm No Angel"; the Bing Crosby musical "Sing You Sinners"; and the WW2 romance "Somewhere I'll Find You" starring Clark Gable and Lana Turner certainly had the credentials to carry it off. But despite the songwriting talents of Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Huesen, Technicolor comedian Sid Field and the beautiful young Kay Kendall "London Town" proved ultimately to be an enormous flop.
It is however not without charm, much of it provided by a very English, young 13 year old named Petula Clark. She had made her movie debut two years earlier in "Medal for the General." She survived "London Town" to join the series of comedies about the Huggett family with Jack Warner and Kathleen Harrison. "Here Come the Huggetts" proved such a success for Gainsborough that it was followed by "Vote for Huggett" and "The Huggetts Abroad." Now 18, Petula moved to more adult fare in the nursing drama "White Corridors" and the comedies "Made in Heaven" and "The Card." Unfortunately, the roles did not get better for the lovely young star and she had opted out of movies by the end of the decade. Her burgeoning singing career delivered hits in the UK such as "The Little Shoemaker" and "Sailor." She met and married Frenchman Claude Wolff and moved to Paris where her recording career continued unabated. A song by a young composer Tony Hatch became an international hit makeing the #1 spot in the US charts. "Downtown" reinvented Petula Clark and her relationship with Hatch and his wife Jackie Trent led to further hits such as "I Know a Place", "Sign of the Times", "Don't Sleep in the Subway", "My Love", "You're the One" and "Colour My World"> She sang "This is My Song" to accompany the opening titles of Charles Chaplin's "Countess from Hong Kong" and soon found herelf back up on the big screen the following year in Warner Bros. production of the 1947 Broadway musical "Finian's Rainbow" with Fred Astaire and Tommy Steel. In 1969 she starred with Peter O'Toole in the musical remake of "Goodbye Mr. Chips". Still busy performing, Petula Clark visited Australia for concerts in 1998 and appeared in the touring musical "Sunset Boulevard" in the USA.
Cover Personality: Petula Clark
At the Press Reception which followed London Town
, that lamentable effort to put London into a musical film, I noticed a rather shy little girl of about 11 years sitting demurely on a chair behind the gossiping film critics and film technicians and stars. She was dealing with an ice cream and seemed quite apart from the clatter of publicity with which she was surrounded. She was not eager to talk about herself and I remember that our conversation consisted mainly of exchanges of view about the films we had recently seen. I saw her again at the Press Reception which followed Vice Versa
another gallant attempt to make us laugh which did not quite come off. Once again the little girl was eating ice cream and sitting in a sheltered part of the room while the critics and others made their customary after
-film noises. Again she smiled shyly and seemed unwilling to talk about her own work and we exchanged a few remarks about other people's films.
Since then, Petula Clark has appeared in Easy Money
, the Huggetts films, The Romantic Age
and lately, as the probationer nurse in White Corridors
. She began her film career in Medal for the General
in 1944, and followed it up with a part in Strawberry Road
(sic) and I Know Where I'm Going
, for Archers, in 1946.
She also works very hard for the BBC. Whatever she does, whether the part be trivial or worthwhile, one notices the same intense earnestness to take trouble about films as such. The same pleasing shyness comes through the screen and one has the impression of an unspoilt personality. She has now reached the dangerous age for child film stars who have made the grade from little girl to teen-ager.