Wednesday, 3 September 2014

It Always Rains on Sundays

With what almost, for me at least, amounted to spontaneity I went to the bf's on Saturday.  This visit I was regaled with 'It Always Rains on Sunday', though it would, I suppose, have been more appropriate to watch Powell & Pressburger's 'A Canterbury Tale'.  (The bf and I have talked about doing the tour of the locations of 'A Canterbury Tale' in the last week of August, and indeed we had the opportunity to do it this last weekend, but other events (more of that later) made it too difficult to pull off.)
'It always Rains on Saturday' is a British film (1947) made by Ealing Studios.  It, however, is not a comedy but a tense, fraught mix of domestic drama and thriller, based on a novel of the same name by Arthur La Bern set in the East End of London.  It stars Googie Withers, her soon to be husband the Australian actor John McCallum, and Jack Warner.  True to form (almost!) Warner plays a detective on the laconic hunt for a prison escapee, Tommy Swann (McCallum).  The stars, and indeed all the actors, - it is a film that teems with urban life - supply some great acting, but that's what one comes to expect from British actors of that period isn't it?  Look out for Alfie Bass, Hermione Baddely and Jimmy Hanley amongst others. The crucial characters are that of Swann and Rose Sandigate (Withers) and both display an almost wild, primitive personality, that with Rose is quixotic and cruel.  She is an almost stereotypical stepmother whose docile husband seems (perhaps only seems) to be unaware of what is actually going on in his own family.  Perhaps Rose is in rebellion with all the sordid little compromises that amass in adult life.  Certainly Swann is the life she could have had, but rejected for security and the ennui of the everyday.  I can't help think it brave that the lead character should be quite so unsympathetic.  Her behaviour at times is reprehensible.
This film was a surprise for me, not only because it was produced by Michael Balcon at Ealing, but because has a violence, complexity and is at times compelling in a way that on casual glance one doesn't associate with British Cinema of the time.  And although there are faults give it a go!  You may be surprised and intrigued by it too.

It Always Rains on Sunday
1947

Producer               Michael Balcon

Director                  Robert Hamer
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe

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