Spring and Port Wine (1970)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama

Spring and Port Wine (1970) Poster

A stern father and lenient mother try to deal with the ups and downs of their four children's lives in working class Bolton.


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2 June 2020 | Lejink
| Wait Till Your Father Gets Home...
'Ee, it were right grim up north, especially if your dad was James Mason's Rafe Crompton, who the minute he enters the family home after putting in a shift at the local mill in Bolton, Lancashire, runs the roost with one hand on his wife's housekeeping money and the other on the Holy Bible. Diana Coup!and, later to play a similar part in a comedic manner opposite Sid James in the popular TV sitcom "Bless This House", is his adoring, but fearful wife who tries to keep the peace between father's draconian ways and their rebellious brood of four fast-growing children, all crammed under the one roof. He calls her "mother" and she calls him "father" which is enough to tell you the hierarchical rules of this particular household, but rebellion is in the air in the form of younger daughter Susan George, a free-spirit who duly picks her moment over a portion of herring put down before her at the family evening meal to at last revolt against the old man's outdated ways.

This sets off a chain reaction amongst the rest of the family as one by one they all, in their own ways, join in the revolution with old man Crompton standing his ground until the pressure finally tells on his wife at last forcing him to re-evaluate both himself and his draconian methods as head of the house.

While the ending is somewhat contrived and sentimental, betraying its origins as a stage play of the time, there's still much to enjoy here. The exterior shots of Bolton in the late 60's will strike a nostalgic chord with many of a certain age-group, to whom it will no doubt evoke memories of Dvorak's New World Symphony / Hovis advert, as well as recollections of the generation gap battles enacted here.

There are some frank dialogue exchanges, which while no doubt familiar in living rooms up and down the country are unlikely to have been heard much on the cinema screen.

Mason effects a fine Northerner's accent as the unyielding father figure while Coupland offers credible support as the recognisable "'er indoors", who with a mother's instinct, sees more than her husband and who gets caught in the crossfire. George is good too as the catalyst for change as are other recognisable faces from TV of the time, such as Rodney Bewes, Hannah Gordon and Frank Windsor.

As indicated, for dramatic purposes, I'd have probably preferred a darker ending but in the end my growing affection for the individual characters made me content with the "all's well that bloody ends well" conclusion presented instead.

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