First was the 147 maximum break achieved by the seven times former world snooker champion Stephen Hendry at The Crucible yesterday. Hendry is similar to Steve Davis insofar as neither was particularly “popular” in their respective pomp. Winning was a habit... and their personalities were essentially hidden by their remarkable focus and quest for titles and trophies...
Nothing wrong with that, except that in the British psyche, “winning” doesn’t always result in universal acceptance.
Obviously I’m generalising, but as a nation, we seem to prefer the heroic failure to the robotic champion. Both Hendry and Davis are on the decline... snooker is now dominated by younger stars, but the viewing public now gets the
chance to see the “real” people behind the professional masks. Hendry comes across as a decent bloke and I must admit I enjoy listening to “Mr Interesting” Davis, whose knowledge of the game and his natural self-deprecation are a great combination.
Hendry’s maximum was a fine achievement; throw jet lag and advancing years into the mix and it becomes even more impressive and for a second (but only for a second) I almost forgot why I didn’t like him all those years ago!
The film is set during 1889 when Vicky Barton (Simmons) and her brother Johnny(Tomlinson) are in Paris for the Exposition Universelle – or World’s Fair.
The pair are given adjoining hotel rooms, but in the morning, room no.19 has “disappeared” as has Johnny. The hotel staff tell Vicky she arrived alone and stranger still, there is no record of Johnny’s presence in the visitor’s book... A frantic Vicky goes to the authorities, but she has no proof to contradict the hotel owner’s assertions that she was alone... and the blank wall where room 19 used to be doesn’t exactly help her story...
A potential witness (the maid, Nina) dies in a balloon accident but then she finds a letter delivered to her room
from George Hathaway (Bogarde) who was returning the 50 Francs he had borrowed from Barton the previous evening. She visits Hathaway and he books into the hotel with the intention of uncovering the truth...
The owners (Narcisse and Madame Hervé – also brother and sister) act in the kind of manner that makes the watcher assume that they are the perpetrators of some dastardly scheme... Hathaway uncovers the missing room (the “clue” was six rooms and six balconies on one floor, but only five rooms with six balconies on the floor below) and Madame Hervé faints as the secret is revealed.
The assumption that something genuinely sinister is afoot is sort of disproved when it emerges that Johnny was taken ill... well slightly more than ill... he has the “Black Death” and was forced to “disappear” to a hospice in order to ensure the success of the Paris fair.
A slightly far-fetched ending, which for me doesn’t match the potential and the suspense created by the initial plot... but all in all it was a decent film. Jean Simmons was certainly a very beautiful woman... (she would have been 21 at the time, but she lived to be 80, passing away as recently as 2010). In acting terms, her longevity was probably demonstrated by virtue of the fact that she played the young Estella in the 1946 version of Dickens’ Great Expectations... but in the 1989 adaptation, she now portrayed Miss Havisham...
Whether or not Stephen Hendry has “great expectations” of an eight world title, I have no idea, but no doubt I’ll be
tuning in to watch the championship unfold... but for now... that’s all folks..!