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Bank Holiday
Remind Me

Bank Holiday aka Three on a Week-End

Bank Holiday (1938) was a Gainsborough Pictures co-production with Gaumont-British, written by Rodney Ackland, Roger Burford and Hans Wilhelm. Director Carol Reed, at the time an up-and-coming director, was loaned out by A.T.P. to producer Ted Black at Gainsborough, with the film to be shot at the Islington studio. John Lodge and Margaret Lockwood were the stars, although Lodge, newly arrived from Hollywood, was hired after production on many scenes, including the ballroom sequence, were already in the can.

Bank Holiday has been likened to an earlier German film by Robert Siodmak, Menschen am Sonntag (aka People on Sunday [1930]) and it certainly borrows from Grand Hotel (1932) in which several storylines concerning people of different classes intertwine. The story, which was pure melodrama of the type featured in women's magazines, takes place over the course of, as the title suggests, a "bank holiday". As Peter William Evans wrote in his biography of Carol Reed, "Bank Holiday offers glimpses of various milleux: the working-class family whose boorish father thinks more of the pub than of his children or long-suffering wife; the lower-middle class beauty contestants, whose most engaging representative, 'Miss Fulham', eventually prefers to the tarnished glory of glamour competition the promise of true romance with the middle-class man (Hugh Williams) abandoned by his unresponsive partner (Margaret Lockwood). " Lockwood, who considered Bank Holiday her first important role, plays a nurse who falls in love with the widowed husband of her patient. The film has frank sexual overtones - Lockwood's character is supposed to be going on her first weekend trip with her boyfriend; the beauty contestant's rival seduces a judge and is discovered to be walking around without underwear; those who can't afford a hotel room shack up on the beach.

Reed first met Lockwood when he was working as a dialogue director at the Ealing Studios in London and they would eventually make six films together including Night Train to Munich (1940). American audiences will remember her best as the young heroine who tries to get her fellow train passengers to believe a governess has been kidnapped in Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938).

Bank Holiday was released in London on January 27, 1938 to excellent notices. The Sunday Express named it 'one of the ablest pieces of picture-making to come out of a British studio." London Evening News called Reed "a treasure in British studios." Lockwood received praise from the Daily Telegraph reviewer, who wrote, "I need only say that her possibilities have been sticking out a mile ever since she played her first big part two years ago. She has beauty, dignity, and an unaffected charm, and she is mercifully free of vowel mutilations and that odious trick of the British ingénue – ending every other word on a breathy higher note, supposed to suggest vivacity or emotion, whereas, of course, all it really suggests is adenoids."

The story line of unmarried people having sex ruffled the feathers of the American film censors, so it had to be altered, along with the title (changed to Three on a Weekend) , before the New York opening on June 3rd. Variety wrote, "This is good entertainment. [...] Interspersed [in the story by Hans Wilhelm and Rodney Ackland] are many rich characters: a cockney family with squabbling kids, two young soldiers on leave, entrants for a beauty prize - one trying to get over a jilt, another aping society and making all the judges. None is overdrawn and all are depicted with human interest."

Producer: Edward Black
Director: Carol Reed
Screenplay: Rodney Ackland (story and screenplay); Roger Burford (screenplay); Hans Wilhelm (story)
Cinematography: Arthur Crabtree
Music: Charles Williams (uncredited)
Film Editing: R.E. Dearing
Cast: John Lodge (Stephen Howard), Margaret Lockwood (Catherine Lawrence), Hugh Williams (Geoffrey), René Ray (Doreen Richards), Merle Tottenham (Milly), Linden Travers (Ann Howard), Wally Patch (Arthur).

by Lorraine LoBianco

Evans, Peter William Carol Reed
McNab, Geoffrey Searching for Stars: Stardom and Screen Acting in British Cinema
Moss, Robert F. The Films of Carol Reed
"Bank Holiday", Variety [date unknown] 1938