15 January 2016

LOVE ON THE DOLE (1941) OUT ON BLU-RAY AND DVD THIS MONTH! REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.


LOVE ON THE DOLE. 1941. FROM THE PLAY BY RONALD GOW. BASED ON THE NOVEL BY WALTER GREENWOOD. DIRECTED BY JOHN BAXTER. STARRING DEBORAH KERR, CLIFFORD EVANS, GEOFFREY HIBBERT, JOYCE HOWARD, GEORGE CARNEY AND MARY MERRALL. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This film was actually banned by the British Board Of Film Censors for what they termed 'its stark portrayal of social deprivation.' I suppose you'd consider it tame enough by today's liberal 'anything goes' standards, but I still found it hard-hitting and I also suppose that, if I'd been a censor way back in 1941, maybe I wouldn't have wanted the whole country seeing it then either. Films like that tend to make people dissatisfied with their miserable lot and might even lead to political unrest, heh-heh-heh.

Anyway, the lovely people at the British Film Institute are releasing LOVE ON THE DOLE this January (2016) in a handy little Dual Format Edition. That is to say, on Blu-ray and DVD discs and with a whole host of extra features to boot.

These include three short films (ISLAND PEOPLE, A CALL FOR ARMS and OUR FILM) and a dinky little illustrated booklet that contains gorgeous pictures from the film, a full cast list and writing from Jo Botting from the BFI and Chris Hopkins.

There's also a short essay by Geoff Brown about the film's director John Baxter (1896-1975). You really can't say much fairer than that, can you? That's a whole lotta extras for your buck.

The plot of LOVE ON THE DOLE, a black-and-white portrayal of life in Salford, England during the years of the Great Depression (the 1930s), is as follows. Deborah Kerr, star of possibly one of the greatest horror films of all times, THE INNOCENTS, plays Sally Hardcastle, a feisty young woman who has two suitors to choose from. Greedy cow, haha. Some of us have barely the one...!

There's the young and fiery political idealist Larry Meath, who hasn't a brass farthing to his name, and the less appealing and much older Sam Grundy, who's loaded with dosh but light on high-minded principles. Does Sal, whose parents can barely keep body and soul together after her dad loses his job down the pit, marry for love or money? Don't forget that when poverty comes in through the door, love flies out through the window. Or words to that effect, anyway.

Don't worry about Our Sal, though. She has more balls than any man. She'll be all right. It's her brother Harry I'm worried about. He's been unemployed for months and months now and his girlfriend Helen is knocked up. (I just KNEW there was going to be love on the dole in LOVE ON THE DOLE...!)

That's what comes of hanging around too much on top of t' little grassy hill above Hankey Park, the kippy estate where they all live. Lasses who let lads touch 'em up on top of t' grassy hill have a tendency to end up in t' family way, don't you know?

So 'ave a care, lasses. You don't want to end up like poor Helen, who'll have nowhere to live when she has her little 'un. And poor Harry too, whose dad rejects him after he's gotten his lass in t' family way. He looks like a man with a death sentence on his head, does young Harry Hardcastle...

There are so many powerful scenes in the film that it's hard to pinpoint just a few, but here goes. Harry Hardcastle grinning like a Cheshire cat at the sight of himself in his first ever grown-up suit, which will take twenty weekly payments that the Hardcastles can ill afford before it's paid for.

Harry and Helen's holiday to Blackpool, their first ever holiday, that takes them to Blackpool's famous Tower Ballroom, which features every year on popular television reality show, STRICTLY COME DANCING.

Then there's the disastrous protest march and poor Larry Meath's worldly goods (every last one of 'em, and so sparse they look!) piled willy-nilly on top of a cart after he... Ooops! I've said too much.

I love all the scenes with the gossipy, nosy, judgemental and bitchy old women gathered around the fire in Mrs. Nattle's kitchen. She's the real power behind Hankey Park, if you ask me, with her pawnbroking and her serving as the agent for the Good Samaritan Clothing Company. There's nothing that savvy, worldly-wise women like Mrs. Nattles don't know about saving- and making- a shilling or two when times are hard.

The bleakness and pure grim hopelessness of the mens' (and womens') futures if they continue to stay in Hankey Park is captured brilliantly in the film. The morals of the day, too, are perfectly encapsulated in the scene between Our Sal and her old man at the end. It's a depressing watch, but its not without an uplifting ending to leave you with a bit o' summat to look forward to in t' future.

By the way, as if the extra features on the new snazzy Dual Format Edition weren't enough of a treat, the BFI will be screening the film at BFI Southbank on the 17th and the 21st of January 2016. They're doing this as part of the season called BLITZ FLICKS that runs throughout the month.

Each weekend, folks get to see a 'Forties-style matinee programme accompanied by real propaganda shorts as well. Oh, Monsieur Ambassador, with zis Ferrero Rocher you are really spoiling us...! You people don't know you're born, haha.

    AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers' Centre, The International Bar, Toners' Pub (Ireland's Most Literary Pub), the Ha'penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland's Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home. In 2003, she was invited to be a guest on Niall Boylan's 98FM late-night radio talk show purely on the basis of having a 'sexy voice.'

She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director's Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com




No comments:

Post a comment