So Long at the Fair (1950): British Thriller Starring Jean Simmons and Dirk Bogarde

The main reason to see So Long at the Fair, a minor British thriller, is the nice rapport between Jean Simmons and Dirk Bogarde, both young and appealing, and both just prior to becoming major Hollywood and international stars.

Set in 1889, at the Paris Exhibition. the story revolves around the intimate relationship between two siblings, Vicky Barton (Jean Simmons) and her older brother Johnny (David Tomlinson).

After the first night of the Exhibition, Vicky is exhilarated, while Johnny seems a bit distant and cynical. Claiming to be tired, he witdraws into his room, and the ever excitable and chatty Vicky is forced to do the same.

The next morning, Vicky knocks on Johnny’s hotel door, only to discover that he has disappeared.

It takes her time to digest the shocking fact, but eventually she goes to the police and, later, to the British consul.  All along, the hotel manager and employees deny the fact that Vicky came with a brother, or that there had been a room where he stayed.

The authorities refuse to believe her story, as there is seemingly no real evidence that Johnny had ever existed!

Much needed help comes almost too late from George Hathaway (Bogarde), a young man who had spotted the siblings at their first dinner.

Working as sleuths, George begins a thorough investigation of the hotel and its “missing” room, and in the process, Vicky discovers her brother’s pipe.

When the hotel’s owner discloses that, yes, a certain man, was rushed into the hospital in the middle of the night, Vicky and George rush out there only to discover that it is not Johnny’s corpse.

The rest of the story cannot be disclosed here without spoiling the fun.  The film is professionally mounted and production values (including black-and-white cinematography) are ultra-modest, which could be a function of the low budget and/or the shape of the film right now.

 

Cast

Jean Simmons as Vicky Barton

Dirk Bogarde as George Hathaway

David Tomlinson as John Barton

Honor Blackman as Rhoda O’Donovan

Marcel Poncin as Narcisse

Cathleen Nesbitt as Madame Merve

Felix Aylmer as British Consul

Betty Warren as Mrs. O’Donovan

Eugene Deckers as Day Porter

Zena Marshall as Nina

André Morell as Dr. Hart

Austin Trevor as Police Commissaire

Natasha Sokolova as Charlotte

Nelly Arno as Madame Verne

Credits

Directed by Anthony Danborough and Terence Fischer

Release: March 29, 1951

Running time: 90 Minutes

Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing this picture on June 11, 2016, as part of their series about movies set during World Fairs at various times and places.