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Submitted by John Liffen

The Edge of the World - First TV screening
World-Radio, 24 March 1939

World-Radio, 24 March 1939
Page 10

TV programmes
Saturday, 1 April, 3.0 - 4.10 pm: Film. Niall MacGinnis and Belle Chrystall in 'The Edge of the World'

World-Radio, 31 March 1939
Page 10

Television Notes

A Viewer's Point of View: The Chronicles of an Ordinary Man-in-the-Street who has become a Regular Viewer of Television

I had seen two of the most important items of last week's television programmes in their original medium of presentation, but this did not prevent me from taking special care not to miss Gaslight (a play) and The Edge of the World (a film), the items in question. Lanham Titchener's name seems to be continually cropping up as a producer of successful television versions of equally successful stage plays, and the production of Gaslight was another feather in his cap. The play itself, which was by Patrick Hamilton, was an eerie mixture of both Edgar Wallace and The Barretts of Wimpole Street, and Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies gave a fine performance of the type of part that seems to have become her special metier - a female with an outsize in inferiority complexes!

The Second Fiddle

As a rule, full-length dramatic films do not 'come off' very well on television and are not often in the programmes. But certainly one of the best items of last week was the transmission of the British film, The Edge of the World. It so happened that I had seen this particular picture some months previously at my local cinema, where it figured, unhonoured and unsung, as a 'second feature' to an all-smashing, all-super, all-dancing - and all-boring - picture of the conventional type. In common with many other patrons of that particular cinema, I was slightly annoyed at having missed the opening reel or so of the British picture, which, by reason of its humble position in the programme, had passed across the screen before my arrival.

However, the television transmission gave me an opportunity of seeing the early part I had missed, and of having another look at the remainder. Few pictures can retain one's interest on a second viewing, but The Edge of the World gripped my attention just as much when it was projected on the end of my receiver's cathode-ray tube as it did on the big cinema screen. The moving drama of life on a lonely Scottish island was finely directed by Michael Powell, and the leading parts were played by Belle Chrystall, Niall MacGinnis, and John Laurie, the last-named already being known to viewers by his performances in several plays in the Alexandra Palace studios. I was interested to note that the very fine photography of landscapes and countryside 'came over' well on television, though some of the less definite scenes taken in mist and others in which beautiful cloud formations figured, were subject to a certain amount of 'flare'. The imaginative musical score and well-handled recording of authentic island sounds added very greatly to the dramatic power of a very sincere film.

Film Television Progress

The technical problems of the television transmission of films seem to have been disposed of, one by one. The news reels in particular, which contained scenes of a highly 'contrasty' photographic quality - quality which varied from shot to shot - used to be particularly subject to halation and flares that had to be removed from the transmission by the speedy adjustment of control knobs by BBC engineers. Lately, one has been far less conscious of these flashes and their subsequent grading adjustment.

Could this be the first TV screening of a Michael Powell film?
It is odd that the review, by "A Viewer", appears to have been written and published before the film was screened.

Any further information would be appreciated.

Other P&P reviews