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The Slab Boys (1997)

 -  Drama  -  29 August 1997 (UK)
5.8
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Paisley, Scotland, in 1957. Three working-class lads look forward to the staff dance at the local carpet factory. Exuberant social piece of observation cinema that concentrates on the boys'... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Phil McCann
Russell Barr ...
George 'Spanky' Farrell
...
Hector McKenzie (as Bill Gardiner)
Louise Berry ...
Lucille Bentley
Julie Wilson Nimmo ...
Bernadette Rooney
Duncan Ross ...
Alan Downie
Moray Hunter ...
Jack Hogg
...
Terry Skinnedar
Tom Watson ...
Willie Curry
...
Miss Elsie Walkinshaw
Barbara Rafferty ...
Mrs. McCann
...
Male Orderly
Jim Boyce ...
Plainclothes Policeman
Isi Metzstein ...
Old Mr. Rubenstein
Wayne Smith ...
Young Phil
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Storyline

Paisley, Scotland, in 1957. Three working-class lads look forward to the staff dance at the local carpet factory. Exuberant social piece of observation cinema that concentrates on the boys' obsessions with lust, music and 'getting out'. Written by Duncan Shine <shine@cableinet.co.uk>

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scotland | factory | 1950s | See All (3) »

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Drama

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29 August 1997 (UK)  »

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Remake of Play for Today: The Slab Boys (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Welcome to the working week
6 May 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

For my sins, I work in Paisley, where this film adaptation of noted artist (his most widely known work arguably being his album sleeves for fellow Paisley "Buddie", the late Gerry Rafferty) and writer (BBC TV series "Tutti Frutti" which starred Robbie Coltrane and Richard Wilson, amongst others) John Byrne is set, although I miss the time-line by several years. It took many years for this celebrated play (in fact originally a trilogy) to come to the big screen although a television version was made many years before and I've also seen a theatrical production of the piece too.

Anyone expecting an uplifting celebration of late 50's working life, infused by rock and roll music will be disappointed however. This is a highly stylised, very stage-bound piece with all its main characters desperate to escape their daily drudgery in some way and all failing. While the broad west of Scotland vernacular and interior sets invite a degree of familiarity, the speech patterns and situations of said characters don't. Correspondingly, I found it difficult to relate to the people in the film and while some of the visuals and indeed acting are watchable, in the end, I found it a rather cold, unappealing piece, with really no one to like in the cast.

As you'd expect from its depiction of both the inner and outer lives of its youthful cast, sex, rock and roll music and for want of a better phrase the "generation gap", there is a degree of energy in the piece, but there's not enough leavening humour to carry it through, while the interesting idea of having contemporary Scottish acts like Pat Kane, Eddi Reader and the Proclaimers cover the various pop and rock songs of the day to further accentuate the film's locality, doesn't really work and in fact tends to distance the characters even more from the viewer.

The cast try hard but ultimately can't breathe enough life into their parts so that apart then from some striking scenes and day-glo visuals, the end result for me is a film of limited appeal that I wouldn't imagine reaching out far from its lowland Scottish roots.


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