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Edgar G. Ulmer
The lives of shop girls stripped bare. The Crowded Day (AKA: Shop Spoiled) is directed by John Guillermin and adapted to screenplay by Talbot Rothwell from a story by John Paddy Carstairs and Moie Charles. It stars John Gregson, Joan Rice, Freda Jackson, Patricia Marmont, Josephine Griffin, Sonia Holm, Patricia Plunket, Rachael Roberts and Vera Day. Music is by Edwin Astley and cinematography by Gordon Dines.
Bunting and Hobbs Department Store, Christmas week, and the shop girls deal with what life has to throw at them this yuletide season.
A rare British movie that if only for the fine ensemble cast of actors gathered, should see it more widely known. By definition it's a bitter- sweet picture, blending comedy with drama is never easy to do, but the makers here manage to pull it off with some skill. The focus is on the post-war working women of this particular department store, this provides the story with a number of different character threads, all intelligently scripted by Rothwell.
From the heavy duty angle of an unmarried pregnancy and the desperation that can cause, to more lighter themes of jealously as a weapon and getting one's own back on the supervisor, there's enough here to either tug the heart or put a smile on the face. Guillermin does a fine job with his direction, with his camera work very effective for each character strand.
When the story is of the dramatic kind, he (and Dines) brings noir visuals into play, with foreboding shadows reflecting the mood of the players and canted angles enhancing psychological discord. For the more fluffy aspects of plotting, the camera is mobile and breezy, the lighting perky as Christmas comes forth from the screen.
The Crowded Day is a twin axis thing at heart, it shows us all that the holiday season often works on different levels for many. Where some have the world at their feet, others are prone to misery. Food for thought. 8/10
Print I viewed was absolutely pristine, showed on the UK Sky Arts Channel. BFI have released it as part of their Adelphi Collection in a double Blu-ray and DVD package that also contains Guillermin's Song of Paris.
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