Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Dam Busters

Fantasy Bob reads that the 1955 film The Dam Busters is going to be remade shortly.   The naming of dogs appears to be an important issue in this project, and what was an acceptable canine name 60 years ago is no longer so.  This specific may be of some minor interest, but in general FB fails to understand why movie moguls regularly do this remake thing - have they no original ideas? 

The story of the Dam Busters is simple.  It is all very British - an understated account of British ingenuity, courage and determination with stiff upper lips on full view everywhere. It tells how boffin designer Barnes Wallis struggled to persuade the authorities that his top spinner could do serious damage against the German batsmen in the difficult test series in 1939-45.  After securing official support from the selectors, Wallis works with flying ace bowler Guy Gibson and his offensively named dog to develop the low flying techniques required to deliver the ball to the correct part of the wicket.  The film ends with extended film of the balls being bowled - and the triumph of wickets falling is mixed with the sadness of the losses sustained - not all the bowlers returned.  There were no sex scenes.

What will the modern take be?  By all accounts the 1955 version was historically accurate.  So what is there to add?  Dripping emotion and special effects no doubt, bigger explosions and lots of computer generated imagery - most likely at the expense of characterisation and the strategic drama.  Bouncing bombs will be complemented by bouncing breasts.  Men will be shown weeping and using hair gel.  What is the point?

Hollies does Bradman
The Dam Busters was released in 1955.  Wisden's cricketer of the year in 1955 was another Dam Buster - Warwickshire leg spinner Eric Hollies.  It was Hollies who 7 years earlier had done a Barnes Wallis on Bradman by bowling him for 0 on his last Test innings so denying him the 3 figure Test average.  Where is the movie mogul to make the film of this epic deed and this hero?   Hollies played only 13 Tests, but in his first class career took 2323 wickets at 20.96.  FB does not know the name of Hollies' dog or whether it would have to be renamed to avoid offence, but he commends the subject to movie people everywhere.

Of one thing FB is sure, no remake will ever better Eric Coates' stirring theme tune of the Dam Busters.  Coates actually declined to score the film but wrote the celebrated March of the Dam Busters which Leighton Lucan based his score on.  Test Match Quality.

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