Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A Place to Go.

A Bright New Future?

As John Hill commented in his book British Cinema 1956-1963 one of the most striking characteristics of our home-grown cinema towards the end of the 1950’s was its increasing concern to deal with contemporary social issues and a series of films that became known as the Social Problem Film. Director Basil Dearden and producer Michael Relph were responsible for some of the best of this genre including Sapphire (1959) that dealt with race problems and the controversial Victim (1961) the first mainstream film to deal directly with homosexuality. A Place to Go (1963) is the last of these types of films by the successful partnership and deals with the subject of youth and it’s involvement with criminality.

As the Daily Cinema remarked at the time of the films release “The film is very much concerned with the wind of change which is blowing through the East End of London, (Its set and filmed in Bethnal Green) a wind which is sweeping away the close packed street’s of drab little houses (and as it turned out the close knit working class community as well) and bringing new, shining modern flats in their place. The trouble is that this wind blows too fast for the old but not fast enough for the young. As we now know the shining modern flats would eventually develop their own problems.

A night out at the Stow for Cat and Ricky. 

The plot of this youth orientated story involves an East End family living in what the authorities called slums, but what they call home. Dad leaves his job in the Docks after a row with his union, whom he accuses of being worse than the bosses, and has turned to busking the cinema queues. This new arrangement is not to the liking of Mum, a women who is quite content in keeping her small terraced home in an immaculate condition and to prepare and serve the family meals, as long as Dad brings in the money. Also living in the house is the central character Ricky who works in the local cigarette factory, his sister Betsy, her husband Jim and a newly born baby. Ricky gets involved with the local gangsters who plan to rob his work place. He also has an infatuation with one of the criminal’s girl friend’s, Cat. 

Pop singer Mike Sarne.
Bernard Lee, famous for his role as ‘M’ in eleven James Bond films between 1962 and 1979, plays Matt Flint the father, Pop singer Mike Sarne, who had a UK number one hit in 1962 with Wendy Richards called Come Outside, is the unsettled and ambitious Ricky Flint, with Rita Tushingham, a famous face in many sixties movies including A Taste of Honey (1961) and The Leather Boys (1964) is Ricky’s love interest Cat Donovan. You may recognise Doris Hare, who plays house-proud Lil Flint the mother, from the popular TV sitcom On The Buses in which she again played mum. 

The film successfully captures the spirit of the old East End. Unfortunately Clive Exton script has not got the potency of the previously mentioned films, both written by Janet Green, but the cast do their best to overcome the problem. Incedently the film had to wait ten months for its release because at that time Bryanston, an independent film company formed after the collapse of Ealing Studio, was having problems with its distribution network, some things never change.

No comments:

Post a Comment