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  • Warning: Spoilers
    THE AGITATOR is a rare and early working class drama that features future DR WHO William Hartnell (here credited as 'Billy') in a leading role. He plays a socialist firebrand who spends his time provoking the emotions of his fellow labouring classes, only to find a twist of fortune when he inherits the very factory in which he works. He soon realises the glory of capitalism and the error of his previous leftist ways in a plot which is deliciously naive and somewhat sentimental. Given that this was a low budget picture made in 1945, it's rather slow and stately, dialogue-heavy and only really interesting as a snapshot of the era, but you do get the glorious scene of Hartnell engaging in fisticuffs with DAD'S ARMY's John Laurie.
  • The other reviewer covered the salient points to this film satisfactorily, but I should like to add a few comments of my own.How surprised I was to see the BBC's original "Dr Who" from 1963,(William Hartnell), billed as "Billy Hartnell" playing a fiery socialist role in a family owned factory saga about the fairness of society, capitalism, socialism etc.who is fond of giving his fellow workers rabble rousing speeches.The only trouble was he did not have the true facts before condemning the factory owner about exploiting the workers.

    The plot gives him the chance to see how he would put his oafish ways into practice in a role reversal when the owner dies and he is given the chance to put his own ideas into place.Whether the factory's main clients are ready for this new, radical approach by the new manager, gives the film its raison d'etre.Hartnell is given 6 months to try out his new ideas causing the company to go very near (but not quite) bust. The company secretary has orders to give him an envelope after this time has elapsed containing a letter from the old boss.It states that happiness is loving your fellow man and being happy at your work.Is this the meaning of life? Hartnell has to come to terms with some of his ill conceived principles and goes on a self imposed sabbatical after leaving some experienced workers as a management team in his stead until he has adjusted to a new way of dealing with his fellow workers.His girl friend, Mary Morris, never flatters him and is always pointing out his character defects but she is clearly affectionate towards him.

    This is a strange little film from 1945 which I bought at a rare video shop in Camden Market, North London, never having seen it before.I awarded it 5/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    this is a rather strange film.It stars William Hartnell in a rather unusual role for him.Rather more youthful than we usually see him and known as Billy rather than William.He plays a firebrand who is always trying to rouse his work mates against the boss because of exploitation.He claims that his father was done out of the proceeds of a revolutionary new machine.The boss investigates the complaint and finds it to be apparently correct.The boss dies suddenly and makes Hartnell the sole heir to his fortune and factory.At this stage the film changes tack.It goes on to show that Hartnell is not up to the job of running the factory,his fiery temper causing him lots of trouble.In the end it transpires that Hartnells father was not responsible for the invention of the machine but Moore Marriott.Hartnell changes his ways and hopefully the factory will take a turn for the better.Whilst entertaining the film is a bit long and just doesn't come off.
  • The message of this film is blatant for all to cannot have socialists running businesses.... Well I've got to find the original novel...but I suspect that it is equally biased and one sided.

    The "hero" is blighted with his own anger... but as the film progresses the story clears a little bit....

    However, the idea that the owner of Overends believes that the secret of happiness and success is to love one's fellow actually laughable....perhaps at on time, owners occasionally did see that there is a role for some people in management and a role for those who are "workers"...but the majority of those today, who are senior management are actually just mini Donald Trumps, narcissitic bigots and greedy self centred profitteers....

    So I can't be charitable to this film...but it is interesting how the forces of 1940's UK capitalism had to commission this film to tell the workers that they cannot run companies...
  • William Hartnell -- still credited as "Billy" -- flirts with stardom as "the Agitator". Convinced that his father was paid nothing for a key invention, he calls the father of the factory's owner a thief. When the factory owner investigates, he discovers his father had paid only a hundred pounds. When he dies a short time later, he leaves everything to Hartnell, who plans to run the business on socialist lines.

    It's a tract decrying the socialist notion that management and ownership is theft, and I've seen other examples from post-war Britain. In fact, I recently read a novel, HEPPLESTALL, about business management and class warfare -- I read it because it was by Harold Brighouse, who wrote HOBSON'S CHOICE. It was a real snorer.

    This movie is based on a novel and I suspect that, like many a movie based on a novel, it does not cover the intellectual side of its source well. Too many of the characters are reduced to stock figures that depend on an excellent cast to bring them to life. Fortunately, the cast is an excellent one, with John Laurie, Moore Marriott, George Carney, Cathleen Nesbitt, and a host of other fine performers doing a good job. The result is a highly watchable work that, alas, reduces the real issues to melodrama.
  • William 'Billy' Hartnell is an Angry Young Man (long before John Osborne came along) who finds his socialist beliefs are nothing but an idealistic pipe dream when he inherits the factory where he works. A film with a clear and definite agenda which it proceeds to ram down its audience's throat with a surprising lack of subtlety or finesse. Hartnell gives it his all, but too often comes across as a strident bully, making his eventual about-turn difficult to believe. It's an absorbing watch, though.