Monday, May 6, 2013

Bhowani Junction (1956)



“The only people who face reality are too dumb to duck when they see it coming.” 

            Bhowani Junction is set in 1947 as the British withdraw completely from India. The only people who will be sad to see the British go are the British civilians and the Anglo-Indians. British Colonel Rodney Savage (Stewart Granger) tells the story of an Anglo Indiana named Victoria Jones (Ava Gardner) and her struggle to find her identity.
            The Anglo-Indians are on the outside of society. They are not wanted by either the British or Indians. Victoria served with the British WAC during the War. She literally comes home to chaos. Indians that are trying to make the British leave faster by protesting nonviolently have come to try to stop the trains from running on time. Victoria’s friend Patrick Taylor is also an Anglo-Indian. He is in charge of keeping the trains running on time. He is not handling the current situation well at all. Col. Savage takes over.
            That night after dinner at her house, Patrick talks to Victoria about what is happening. He becomes angry with the Indians and what they are doing to the British. Patrick would rather side with the British fully and denounce his Indian heritage. Victoria begins to become confused. She feels she is who she is why should she choose which one of her peoples she really and fully is.
            There is a ton more to this story but it becomes a bit long and drawn out. Hopefully you know from history class that the British do eventually leave India.
            Ava Gardner was absolutely amazing as Victoria. I cannot understand how she was not nominated and did not win an Academy Award. I loved her scenes I loved watching her. This is one of several of Gardner’s films where the character she is playing reflected her own life. Gardner was a free spirit at a time when women were supposed to be proper and tame. She seemed to always walk the line between being that proper lady yet wanting to be with the guys drinking, smoking, cursing, staying up until all hours of the night and morning. After a day’s shooting Gardner would go hang out with the crew late into the night.
            Stewart Granger I had never seen in a film before. I liked him he was a very good actor and he looked great with Ava Gardner.
            I really liked seeing a George Cukor film that was rugged, dirty, and real. I am so used to seeing his melodramas and comedies from the 1930s and 1940s. Knowing that the man directed My Fair Lady (and from what I have read was most likely gay) I wonder how he handled being out in the heat of Pakistan with Ava Gardner who was most likely just as rough as any male in the cast or crew… must have been interesting.
            Bhowani Junction in some scenes moves a bit slow but for the most part in an engaging film. There were some scenes where I felt uncomfortable because it became so immersed in what was going on it was as if I was out in the heat and intense atmosphere with the characters. Bhowani Junction is a very well made and acted film but it is not one I would watch more than twice.