Conducting Affairs – Rediscovering ‘Interlude’ (UK 1968 – 113 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - August 20, 2015
Conducting Affairs – Rediscovering ‘Interlude’ (UK 1968 – 113 mins)

The 1968 romantic drama ‘Interlude’ is a flashback-filled tale of a brief love affair between a young female journalist and a renowned conductor. Yes it’s a syrupy soaper, but one that holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Mine included.

After being interviewed by pretty reporter Sally Carter (Barbara Ferris), Classical conductor Stefan Zelter (Oskar Werner) begins a romantic interlude with the young journalist, which threatens the stability of Stefan’s home life with his devoted wife and their two adoring children.

In a year of ground-breaking blockbusters such as ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, ‘Planet of the Apes’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, it’s little wonder that this gem came and went without much fanfare. Yet, although the age-old story is simply told, there’s still much to enjoy, not least the tender performances from the two likable leads.

Lovely Barbara Ferris was wonderful as the sweet reporter, guiltily falling for Werner’s married conductor. 26 year old Ferris had earlier frolicked with The Dave Clark Five in John Boorman’s lively romp ‘Catch Us If You Can’ (’65), and would play an oft-pregnant free-spirit the following year in ‘A Nice Girl Like Me’ (’69). Famed Austrian actor Oskar Werner had one of his final roles here, and is excellent as the temperamental composer. Werner battled alcoholism in later life and would make only 3 more screen appearances before his death in 1984, aged 61. Glamorous Virginia Maskell had her best role as Werner’s neglected wife Antonia, winning a BAFTA nomination for her fine turn. Sadly though, Virginia suffered a nervous breakdown after filming, and a few months later took an overdose which she never recovered from. She died on January 25th 1968, aged just 31. The movie also provided early roles for Derek Jacobi and Donald Sutherland, and featured a comical turn from a pre-Python John Cleese.

Director Kevin Billington made his movie debut here and does a fine job, employing some loving close-ups of his two stars. Billington followed this film with the satirical Peter Cook comedy ‘The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer’ (’70), and the 1971 adventure ‘The Light at the Edge of the World’ with Kirk Douglas and Yul Brynner. Special mention must go to the sublime French composer Georges Delerue who once again composed a beautiful and emotional score which fitted the mood perfectly.

The London locations were put to good use (including The Royal Albert Hall), as was the South of England for the couple’s precious getaways, which included a trip to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. All this was beautifully shot by cinematographer Gerry Fisher who later photographed Joseph Losey’s haunting drama ‘The Go-Between’ (’71).

Crying out to be rediscovered, ‘Interlude’ remains a tender drama about a doomed romance, with sympathetic turns by Ferris and Werner, and a haunting one by Virginia Maskell. While the ending is sad yet satisfying, and many tears are shed, the professional cast just about keep it on the right side of schmaltz.

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