A chance conversation with a friend online one Sunday morning prompted me to consider writing this article, We were talking about the great black and white comedies which were produced in their abundance by British studios during the 1950’s and thru to the mid 1960’s. Titles such as PASSPORT TO PIMLICO and I,M ALRIGHT JACK popped up as did the names Alastair Simms and Alec Guinness along with Stanley Holloway and Sidney James to name but a few, then my friend asked about a movie called FOLLY TO BE WISE which was released in 1953, it was movie that he remembered well as did I with the inimitable Alastair Simms in the role of an army Chaplin who is also head of entertainment on an army base. The Chaplin is trying to find ways to keep the troops entertained, he decides to create a “BRAIN TRUST” where as local experts will come along and take questions from the soldiers, which seems a good idea until he invites a professor along to talk and also a painter and his wife, things soon to get out of hand as the questions asked get around to the subject of marriage, it is then it becomes apparent to all that the relationship between the painter and his wife are not what they say they are. A film that should be considered a comedy classic in our eyes, but is sadly forgotten.
The musical score for this movie was the work of Temple Abady, WHO? I hear you say. Well you will be surprised to learn that this composer was responsible for penning the musical soundtracks for numerous British films, and like FOLLY TO BE WISE, is sadly either ignored or forgotten. Born Harold Temple Abady in Hampstead, London on June 16th, 1903. The composer was particularly prolific in the scoring of romantic comedies and worked on a number of documentaries, many of his works for the cinema being conducted and supervised by the great Muir Mathieson. His film scoring career began early in 1947 when he worked on a handful of documentary shorts including THE THREE A’s A COUNTY MODERN SCHOOL and THE BALANCE, before being offered a score for a full-length feature. MIRANDA, (1948) was Abady’s first film score proper and was also to become his most well-known work for the cinema.
The movie which was a romantic tale directed by stalwart British film maker Ken Annakin, starred Glynis Johns in the title role, the movie also starred Margaret Rutherford, Googie Withers, David Tomlinson and Griffith Jones, the film was about a Mermaid who is caught by Paul (Jones) a physician whilst he is on a fishing holiday in Cornwall, the Mermaid drags him into the sea and keeps him hidden in an underwater cave, until he promises to take her to London. As he is a doctor he decides to push her around in a wheelchair to pass her off as invalid patient and to hide her obvious signs of not being human. Paul then takes Miranda to his home and tells her this will be for a month, he convinces his wife (Googie Withers) that it is a good thing to do and employs a nurse to take care of Miranda. The nurse played superbly by Margaret Rutherford, is somewhat eccentric, but is more than happy to take care of Miranda, even after finding out that she is a Mermaid. It is not long however before things begin to go wrong, many of the men that are friends with Paul or his staff become enchanted by Miranda, and think they are hopelessly in love with her, but this soon arouses suspicion and jealousy from many of their wives and fiancées. It is not until the men folk find out that Miranda has been flirting with all of them that they come to their senses, the secret is out and Pauls wife insists that they should inform the authorities about the Mermaid. Miranda overhears the conversation and wheels herself down to the river where she returns to the water and makes her escape, the final scene is a poignant one where we see Miranda sitting on a rock holding a Mer-baby on her lap.
Temple Abady’s music added much to the movie, the composer underlining the comedic scenes perfectly adding touches of romanticism, wisps of drama and little flourishes of melancholy to the proceedings. The music was performed by the London Symphony orchestra under the baton of Muir Mathieson and the score also boasted a song, MIRANDA, performed by Jean Sablon which was heard over the opening titles and had lyrics by Jack Fishman (no pun intended). The film which was quite successful and popular spawned a sequel in 1954, entitled MAD ABOUT MEN, which also starred Glynis Johns and Margaret Rutherford, with Donald Sinden in the leading male role, directorial duties were by Ken Annakin and Ralph Thomas. Temple Abady, worked on approx., 25 assignments as a composer and contributed to the music for EASY MONEY (1948), which had a main composer credit for Francis Chagrin, although according to IMDB it was Abady who wrote the score.
EASY MONEY was also an early movie for John Hollingsworth as assistant musical director. Hollingsworth, who went on to become the esteemed musical director for Hammer films during the 1950’s and 1960’s, also conducted Abady’s scores for ALL OVER TOWN in 1948 and MISS ROBIN HOOD in 1952, with Muir Mathieson acting as musical director/supervisor.
During the mid to late 1950, s Abady would have his scores conducted by the likes of Marcus Dods who directed the music for KILL ME TOMORROW, WHEEL OF FATE and LOVE IN PAWN which had additional music written by Frank Cordell. Abady’s film music was performed by, The London Philharmonia and The London Mozart Players as well as The London Symphony Orchestra.
Abady passed away on December 1st,1970, in Worthing Sussex England, he was 67 years of age. His credits for film and TV include, THE WOMAN IN THE HALL, DEAR MR. PROHACK, THE HORSES MOUTH, BOTH SIDES OF THE LAW, NEVER LOOK BACK, FILES FROM SCOTLAND YARD, LOVE IN WAITING, and an early Disney TV show entitled THE ADVENTURES OF CLINT AND MAC which was aired in 1957. His work on documentaries and shorts included, ALONG THE LINE, TRIAL BY WEATHER, HEALTH IN OUR TIME, A FAMILY AFFAIR, WORK IN PROGRESS, AWAY FOR THE DAY and THIS YEAR-LONDON. His contributions to British cinema are immense but often overlooked.