The Three Lives of Thomasina

1964 UK
Dir:Don Chaffey
Stars:Patrick McGoohan,
Susan Hampshire, Karen Dotrice

Left:Susan Hampshire, Right:Patrick McGoohan

Even though the movie is critisized by reviewers of own country, I
think this one is a quite excellent Disney product.
This movie is absolutely a gem. It's true that since it is a Disney product, there are some moralistic view points present primarily targeted at children using as usual an animal story (Thomasina is a pet cat), and those who don't want to hear just another moral educational sermon might think it had better be avoided. But, if you think that way, I must say you are absolutely missing a chance of witnessing how much such fairy-tale-like stories for children can also be enjoyed by grown-ups. One example of such a somewhat prejudiced view is shown in the review written by some British professional reviewer. It follows like this; "The Scots have always been easy prey for animal sob-stories and the Disney studio wrings the tears from this one with practised ease. <some lines omitted> The storyline itself is wrong, although there's one amusing howler early on when Thomasina says her family called her Thomas at first until they got to know her better. And her master a vet?". Surely, he isn't saying the movie is moralistic. But as this movie is difficult to be called an animal sob-story because there is no tragic aspect in it, I presume what he wants to say is somehow concerning moralizing aspects. When the movie is seen as cynically and ironically as this one (this reviewer's cynicism is quite eloquently revealed in the latter part of this review where he picks up the most trivial point and says as if it is the best part of this movie), it will certainly lose the best element of this movie even though some of what he says isn't absolutely untrue considering the fact that there surely is an intention other than just providing the audience with an interesting story plain and simple, and that it can't be denied that there are some educational consideration involved here. Anyway, I even thought this guy might want to say more about Scotch in this review rather than about this film, though as I'm a Japanese, I don't know the exact feeling of English people toward Scotsman.
What's the story of this fantastic movie like.
First of all, the story is quite interesting, and the characters are well thought out as this type of children's story even though I dare not deny the fact that some typecasting is present, and there are a couple of sudden changes in plot development in the story proceeding. Anyway, the story goes like this. A veterinarian played by Patrick McGoohan who has an excellent skill for treating animals, but is regarded as heartless by the villagers because of his complete reliance upon just a technical expertise goes into trouble when his daughter's pet cat Thomasina was seriously injured, and he couldn't save her, and by the consequence of which his daughter never forgives him for his treatment of the cat (mercy killing). But Thomasina isn't really dead, and is picked up and cured by a beautiful woman played by Susan Hampshire who is regarded as a witch by the villagers because of her secluded life style. Meanwhile, the daughter played by Karen Dotrice gets sick because she plunged into the pouring rain when she saw still-alive Thomasina outside the window of her room. Finally, it is he who has by then somehow learned what curing and healing someone, be it a person or an animal, is all about through the exchanges with the so-called witch who doesn't have much technical skill but has the instinctive knowledge about curing and healing that must cure his daughter and regain his daughter's trust toward him by picking up for her the cat proving he really loves his daughter's beloved cat as this in turn means he loves his daughter from the view point of the daughter who lost trust in her father when finally Thomasina shows up in front of everyone.
We should appreciate and savor this quite imaginatively told and
beautifully rendered story as a whole rather than dwelling on just
tiny negative aspects.
As you might have well noticed, the story definitely has a moralistic aspect; that is, a heartless person changes his mind and becomes a very heartful person by knowing and befriending one with natural affection for everyone and everything. But, it's by no means a sugar-coated sob-story the reviewer from England where this movie was made is suggesting it is. On the contrary, I think if someone should criticize this movie, it must be done in such a way as the view presented here is too optimistic for grown-ups to take it seriously because human beings are not so easily changeable especially after one has fully grown up. But even such a criticism couldn't deny the value of this movie entirely. For, the story is in so masterly a way presented that the viewers will certainly get a feeling that they want to accept everything presented here without any cynicism that can be in any way possible to make against any movies of this type if they want. In short, I think we should appreciate and savor this quite imaginatively told and beautifully rendered story as a whole rather than dwelling on just tiny negative aspects. Then, we will surely be able to find a marvelous gem in this fantastic movie.
With its superior cast and music and scenary, this entertaining
movie is recommendable to everyone.
Yet the most impressive asset of this movie is two principal players; i.e, Patrick McGoohan and Susan Hampshire. As to the former, I presume that he can be classified as a kind of character actor, and it seems that especially after the 1970s, he has frequently played somehow bureaucratic and villainous characters quite masterfully. In this rather earlier movie, he is already showing his talent to be a superb character actor. The protagonist veterinarian's cold demeanor, but nevertheless sometimes inadvertently revealing his fragility and weakness, seems to quite match his overall personality here. But, better than him is Susan Hampshire. Although it has no direct concern with the movie itself, I've always marveled at the contrast between her blond hair and her pitch-black eyes that are even blacker than the eyes of our Japanese people (incidentally, among Japanese, there isn't even a single person whose eyes are not black). And, her voice is also warm and beautiful. It could be easily noticed that her inartificial natural presence is surely giving to this movie a look of definite innocence, and its effect is quite enormous. I feel so sad for the fact that she couldn't extend this precious personality to the fullest in other movies. Anyway, even the aforementioned movie critic is praising her by stating "Susan Hampshire scores a big success as the witch who tends to sick animals". Probably no one can deny her charm in this movie. Other than these players, the title song is quite good and fun, and the scenary shot probably in Scotland is breath-takingly beautiful. Especially the scenary of the introductory part is fascinating so much so that when I firstly watched this movie, I was completely sucked into the world of this charming tale instantaneously by the first scene. Anyway, I think this movie is proving the point that audiences can be easily spellbound even without big budget if the story is presented in quite a proper manner and in an imaginative way. Even if you aren't one of those persons who like cats more than any other creatures including human friends, I can assure this movie will look quite entertaining unless you are completely sick and tired of detecting even the slightest sign of moral preach or are so cynical about anything. All in all, this definitely entertaining movie is recommendable to everyone, everyone including grown-ups as well as kids.

All articles are written by Kaminarikozou