George Orwell. 1984

1984Our “feature” last night was the 1956 film of George Orwell’s novel 1984, made in England by an outfit called Holiday Film Productions (an oddly cheery moniker for the producers of so dire a story!) in association with Columbia Pictures, and featuring American stars in the leads — Edmond O’Brien as Winston Smith and Jan Sterling as Julia — with a superb British supporting cast headed by Michael Redgrave as the Inner Party leader who first recruits Winston to the supposed “Underground” and then interrogates and tortures him in the Ministry of Love; in the book this character was called O’Brien but the filmmakers, perhaps not wanting any confusion with the name of their star, renamed him “O’Connor.” (They also changed the name of the supposed leader of the Underground from Emmanuel Goldstein to “Kalador,” which makes him sound like a space alien — though the actor playing him, Bernard Rebel, was still made up to look like Leon Trotsky — and they changed the name of the population who aren’t Party members from “the proles” to “the people.”)

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