In cinemas 26 October 2012
Robert Hamer’s skilful mix of noir thriller and vivid social tapestry is rightly acclaimed as one of the finest – and frankest – films made in and about postwar Britain.
Directed by Robert Hamer
With Googie Withers, John McCallum, Jack Warner, Edward Chapman
Running time 92 mins
Chronicling a March Sunday in the lives of a Bethnal Green family and their various acquaintances, it centres on the dilemma faced by Rose (Withers) – an ex-barmaid bored by her older husband (Chapman) and burdened by two grown stepdaughters – when an old flame (McCallum) breaks out of Dartmoor and turns up demanding food and a few hours’ refuge. Around this suspenseful core, Hamer creates a credibly caustic portrait of an East End blighted by poverty and populated by all manner of folk striving, honestly or otherwise, to get by. The downbeat lyricism, reminiscent of French poetic realism, combines with a multi-strand narrative more suggestive of Renoir or even Altman, but the clear-eyed assessment of Britain’s ration-book mores – where furtive sex and petty larceny exist cosily alongside tin baths, roast beef and pub darts – was bleakly but brilliantly Hamer’s own.