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  • Charles Drazin

The best film never made?

The best film never made? For Each the Other must surely be a contender.

I recently found a copy of the script. It was given to me nearly thirty years ago by the Ealing screenwriter Diana Morgan. The person who wrote the script wasn’t Diana (although she helped), but the director Robert Hamer, who with Kind Hearts and Coronets in 1949 made a perfect film that the British film industry did not allow him to come close to matching ever again. As project after project of his was turned down during the 1950s, he descended into alcoholism. He died on 4 December 1963, aged only 52.

Of all the rejected projects, For Each the Other, was the most personal, offering a self-portrait of Hamer in the character of the sophisticated Anthony, a connoisseur of poetry, painting and music, who drifts listlessly from bar to bar and woman to woman, only finally meeting the perfect other as they die together in the final scene.

The script is dedicated to Diana: A la marrraine de “Baby” avec la reconnaissance profonde du scénariste (To the godmother of “Baby” with the deep gratitude of the scriptwriter).

In a decade where successful British movies were upbeat comedies like Genevieve or Doctor in the House, it is not difficult to understand why the film industry was not prepared to accommodate Hamer’s dark view of life. The glittering prizes he deserved therefore eluded him. It is why I am pleased to possess the prize he won at Rossall School in 1925 when he was in the 4th form and still had everything to hope for – a leather-bound edition of Ruskin’s The Crown of Wild Olive. It was sent to me soon after Hamer’s twin sister Barbara died in 1994 by her companion, who had read the chapter I had written on Hamer in my book The Finest Years.

Mens Agitat Molem,’ reads the school motto, which was embossed in gold on the cover of Hamer’s prize. ‘Mind over matter.’ But in the film industry Hamer later discovered that this was about as true as Ars Gratia Artis.


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