Will Hay

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The skilful dialogue by scriptwriters Val Guest and Marriott Edgar (often working with J.O.C. Orton) was enhanced by the fluid direction of Marcel Varnel, the convincing sets by Vetchinsky, and moody photography (frequently by Arthur Crabtree). These films are not only funny: they are made with great care and have many moments of endearing camaraderie and warmth.

He had a relatively brief screen career: by the time he made his first film he was in his mid-40s and an established music hall artist, and his last role came less than a decade later. But between 1934 and 1943 he was a prolific and popular film comedian.

In 1943, Will Hay received treatment for cancer, and he returned to his roots in radio.The half hour weekly 'Will Hay Programme' began in August 1944, and was broadcast live from the Paris Cinema, which still exists in a basement just off Piccadilly Circus.

The series was short lived and cancelled due to adispute with the BBC over scripts. It was soon revived and on stage, at the top of the bill at London's Victoria Palace, the comedy continued.

The cast was brought together one last time for an all variety anticipatory celebration at midnight May 4, 1945 for the Royal Family and many military notables at a private function at the Life Guards barracks in Windsor, which featured the leading comics of the day. The war in Europe ended just four days later. This may also have been Will Hay's last performance prior to his illness, and his son Will Hay, Jr. carried on his father's act for a while.

In 1947 he had a stroke which left him physically crippled.

He was credited on several films as a writer or co-ordinator, and was arguably the dominant 'author' of all the films in which he appeared, in that they were built around his persona and depended on the character and routines he had developed over years on the stage.


Suggested films to see:

Where's That Fire? (1940)
Ask a Policeman (1938)
Good Morning, Boys (1937)
Boys Will Be Boys (1935)



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