14 July 2005 | nicholas.rhodes
Oozing with violence !
Although I saw this film many years ago when I was a university in the 1970's, it would not appear to be very well known. A couple of years ago it came out on DVD in the UK and I gobbled it up the day I found it ! In fact, the film is a masterpiece of acting. It depicts an age in Britain's Industrial Relations which was ( fortunately for us all ) swept away when Margaret Thatcher's government came to power in 1979. Prior to this, the British Economy was in a mess and all people could think about doing was going on strike. The film, made in 1959 presumably depicts somewhere around the beginning of this period. Nowadays, people don't speak of "closed shop" agreements, presumably because it has been made illegal, but at the time, if you weren't a member of a union, you had difficulties to be employed. T The film is extremely violent in its ideas and although the physical violence is limited, the underlying and implied violence in thought and ideas is rather frightening. Scenes of Attenborough trying to enter the factory to work and being intimidated by other striking workers really are very shocking and difficult to watch. Attenborough's wife on the screen the Beautiful and much regretted Pier Angela brings a soft and feminine touch to this world of bigoted louts and layabouts. Watching someone being sent to Coventry ( ie being ignored ) is no easy matter and I felt quite sick at the way Attenborough was treated by his colleagues, just because he refused to strike. Nowadays that sort of thing wouldn't happen but at the time the mentality was different ( which just goes to prove that the old mentalities are not always the better ones ) I was curious to know about the person who arrives on a train at the beginning and leaves just as furtively at the end. I don't know the actor's name but he certainly had a face corresponding to the part. I assume he was an agent from a competitor company sent by them to stir up trouble amines the Martindale Employées so that another company would get the orders. We don't have confirmation of this during the film by that is my own idea. I originally thought he was a commy infiltrator but then changed my mind after a few viewings of the film.
I personally found the film very nourishing and very intense, true it depicts a long lost era in British Labour Relations but the sheer intensity of the acting and the violence means that one cannot get it out of one's mind. What a shame we no longer have British Cinema today producing films of this intensity on problems in current-day Britain!