The Chinese wish each other five happinesses: wealth, longevity, good health, virtue, and a peaceful death in old age. The sixth happiness one must decide for oneself.
Richard’s recent post on Dr Kotnis ki Amar Kahani reminded me of this film, because the two films share a lot in common. Like Dr Kotnis ki Amar Kahani, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is based on a real life story—in this case, that of the Englishwoman Gladys Aylward (1902-70), who in 1930 went off to China to ‘serve’ the people there. Like Dr Kotnis, she too fell in love with a Chinese national, and is even today, 40 years after her death, regarded as something of a national heroine.
The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, while not completely true to the story of Gladys Aylward (artistic license makes films sell!), is accurate enough in the basics. It tells, with sensitivity and feeling, the story of a brave woman’s determination to go halfway across the world—to a land of which she didn’t even know the language—simply in order to follow her dream.
A couple of posts back, I’d mentioned one of my favourite directors: Alfred Hitchcock. And a few posts before that, an actor whom I’d want to see more of: Robert Donat. So here’s one that brings them together: a classic chase across Scotland, in one of Hitchcock’s early British films. This, by the way, was the first Hitchcock film I recall seeing as a kid. I enjoyed it as much then as I do now.
Having watched this movie (released in the UK as Perfect Strangers), I’m realising I need to watch more of Robert Donat. He—and Deborah Kerr, who overdid the saccharine act in Quo Vadis—pull off this unusual tale of a wartime romance with ease. Frankly speaking, wartime romances à la A Farewell to Arms don’t thrill me. I hate the angst, the fear of the loved one copping it, etc. Too much stress.
So Alexander Korda’s Vacation from Marriage, never too blue, never really distressing and with a mostly predictable end, was perfect. Sweet!