Arthur's Hallowed Ground (1984)
A Hidden Jewel
All I've heard is the gospel according to Arthur Chapman - Len
To explain to someone what "Arthur's Hallowed Ground" is about should be simple, one man who come rain or come shine has lovingly tended the cricket pitch for 45 years, doing it his way and only his way. But that sounds quite boring when in truth "Arthur's Hallowed Ground" is one of the most entertaining and charming movies I have watched in a while. Maybe I am being nostalgic but there is something simply charming about this 80s comedy drama and the tale of Arthur who deals with criticism like water of a duck's back and who finds himself with an unwanted assistant who he eventually warms to.
For 45 years Arthur Chapman (Jimmy Jewel - The Krays) has tended the cricket pitch, there is not a single weed or stone to be seen and it is the flattest in the land, making Arthur a proud man. But that doesn't go down well with either the clubs board of directors or players because it gives them no home field advantage. With new director Len (Michael Elphick) wanting Arthur gone he does his best to make life difficult whilst Arthur finds himself with a new assistant, Henry (Vas Blackwood - Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) who knows nothing and gets under Arthur's feet.
The reason why "Arthur's Hallowed Ground" is so charming is because I recognize the character of Arthur. When I was at school in the 80s there was a caretaker just like him with his cap and coat shouting if you trod on the roped of cricket field. He also had a workshop just like Arthur's full of jars of bits and pieces and broken down machines as well as those which he had made himself. Even the character of Henry, who doesn't say much and knows even less is a familiar one, maybe a bit too much of a stereotype but one which works. And so for me watching "Arthur's Hallowed Ground" was like a journey back to my childhood.
Now I don't think without that connection "Arthur's Hallowed Ground" really works, oh there is the amusement of Arthur as he gets moaned at and then continues with his conversation as if it hadn't happened. But without that connection all "Arthur's Hallowed Ground" ends up is a slightly amusing short film about a stuck in his ways grounds man. Although even then the comical way in which Arthur works and the friendship which strikes up between him and Henry is pleasant.
Whilst "Arthur's Hallowed Ground" features Michael Elphick and a young Vas Blackwood as Henry the movie is all about Jimmy Jewel as Arthur and it is a wonderful performance from the old time performer. There is no outright comedy, there is no trying to be funny just Jewel playing a character who's way of doing things and dealing with people makes us laugh.
What this all boils down to is that "Arthur's Hallowed Ground" is a wonderful little movie which to be honest isn't very strong but that sense of nostalgic connection makes it so much more. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s and remember your school caretaker being a bit of a grump with his cloth cap and coat who had a shed full of old tools then this should fill you with warmth.
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