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Davey Fenwick leaves his mining village on a university scholarship intent on returning to better support the miners against the owners. But he falls in love with Jenny who gets him to marry her and return home as local schoolteacher before finishing his degree. Davey finds he is ill-at-ease in his role, the more so when he realises Jenny still loves her former boyfriend. When he finds that his father and the other miners are going to have to continue working on a possibly deadly coal seam he decides to act. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Well, Fenwick, will the men work tomorrow?
Not if its to be in Scupper Flats, Mr. Barras.
[indicating a well-dressed union official]
Even against your union?
The union isn't being asked to work in Scupper Flats. On the other side of that coal seam is a million tons of flood water ready to rush right down on top of us.
You don't think I'd take a chance in floodin' me own mine, do you, Fenwick?
Well, show us the plans of them old workings, then!
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Director Carol Reeds version of A.J. Cronins novel of poverty, greed and unfulfilled dreams still seems fresh today despite its sixty years.
Michael Redgrave stars as Davey Fenwick, a bright man from a poor mining background, who wins a scholarship to university. He hopes to graduate and then enter politics, so as to work to end the suffering of his kith and kin and their ilk.
However, his plans change when he meets and falls in love with Jenny Sunley (played by Margaret Lockwood), a strikingly beautiful but manipulative and materialistic little minx who has just been cruelly dumped (why???) by her boyfriend, Daveys old friend, the ruthlessly ambitious Joe Gowlan (Emlyn Williams). Understandably smitten, Davey marries the lovely but self-centred Jenny and, at her instigation, quits university and moves home to work as a schoolteacher. But his world is turned upside down when trouble at the pit, Jennys restlessness and the reappearance of Joe, whom Jenny still loves and who is now flashily well-to-do,combine.
At the time, this was one of the most expensive films ever made in Britain. But it was well worth the investment. It assured Carol Reeds reputation and gave to film audiences and to posterity a grimly realistic picture of life at the sharp end in 30s Britain. The all-star cast too got a chance to show their ability, giving terrific performances; Redgrave is superb as the disillusioned idealist, Williams is thoroughly unpleasant as the unfeeling, cynical Joe while Margaret Lockwood, one-time screen ingénue in her first wicked girl role, gives a wonderful performance as the drop-dead gorgeous, vixenish, gold-digging Jenny.
As social commentary this is a great movie, but, on another, more profound level,it works as a dark, despairing canvas depicting the often destructive nature of human relationships. Essential viewing!
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