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The Stars Look Down (1940)

Approved | | Drama | 16 September 1940 (Sweden)
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 ... See full summary »

Director:

Carol Reed

Writers:

A.J. Cronin (from the book by) (as A. J. Cronin), J.B. Williams (screen play) (as J. B. Williams) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Redgrave ... Davey Fenwick
Margaret Lockwood ... Jenny Sunley
Emlyn Williams ... Joe Gowlan
Nancy Price ... Martha Fenwick
Allan Jeayes Allan Jeayes ... Richard Barras
Edward Rigby ... Robert Fenwick
Linden Travers ... Mrs. Laura Millington
Cecil Parker ... Stanley Millington
Milton Rosmer ... Harry Nugent, MP
George Carney ... Slogger Gowlan (as George Carnay)
Ivor Barnard ... Wept
Olga Lindo Olga Lindo ... Mrs. Sunley
Desmond Tester ... Hughie Fenwick
David Markham David Markham ... Arthur Barras
Aubrey Mallalieu Aubrey Mallalieu ... Hudspeth
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Storyline

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 <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 September 1940 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

...a hvézdy mlcí See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Grafton Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Ultra Violet Recording) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The earliest documented USA telecast of this film took place in Philadelphia Sunday 2 January 1949 on WCAU (Channel 10). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Richard Barras: Well, Fenwick, will the men work tomorrow?
Robert Fenwick: Not if its to be in Scupper Flats, Mr. Barras.
[indicating a well-dressed union official]
Richard Barras: Even against your union?
Robert Fenwick: 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.
Richard Barras: You don't think I'd take a chance in floodin' me own mine, do you, Fenwick?
Robert Fenwick: Well, show us the plans of them old workings, then!
See more »

Connections

Version of ...e le stelle stanno a guardare (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beware the Wicked Lady
2 June 2009 | by dr_sardonicus1See all my reviews

This appeared recently on BBC4's 'Coal night' - and seems an apposite choice given the subject matter.

My earliest memory of this story (I'm 42) is the 1974 serial produced when ITV still mattered and wasn't riddled with reality TV, puerile so called comedy and makeover shows. The 'drama' offered up by the third channel now is so lightweight the thought of the likes of the 21st century equivalent of Avril Elgar appearing it seems light years away from what could be described as reality (in the non vacuous sense). It was excellent, as I recall, but I didn't post this just to rant at the decline of ITV's quality standards, that's been done to death elsewhere.

So, the film - it's always refreshing and very pleasing to come across something 'new' from someone who has already earned their spurs elsewhere. Carol Reed needs no introduction to the cognoscenti of cinema - anyone who has seen 'The Third Man' or 'Fallen Idol' will testify to that! What's so good about this film is not only the beautiful evocation of a world long gone (it was made in 1939, just before the outbreak of WW2), but also gives an indication of just how difficult working class life must have been. If you did not work, you did not eat. Pretty much all the people who worked on this film are long dead, but watching it, and with an eye for the accuracy of how social history is portrayed, it's hard not to be moved by the grim reality of the inevitability of 'life down 'pit'. You're born into griding poverty, you grow up a friendly ragamuffin, you mine, you get old, you die.

Unless, of course, you're asked to mine Scupper Flats. The story itself is a strong one. In the days when mine owners swanned around in posh cars and deigned to show up at the pit once in a blue moon, the safety of being asked to mine a new face is called into question by idealistic young Davey Fenwick, who, having got his hands dirty down the mine, attempts a better life by breaking away and trying to earn a degree from the local university. Of course, a woman gets in the way, and the beautiful but manipulative and shallow Jenny Sunley (admirably played by Wicked Lady Margaret Lockwood) eyes an opportunity to 'better herself' financially and persuades Davey to drop out and become a school teacher. Eventually, Davey's idealism and pragmatic suspicions are proved correct, with tragic consequences.

Beautifully acted from a time when real craftsmanship went into British film making, the piece stands not only as great entertainment (though it won't engage 'movie' buffs with short attention spans who think anything pre 2008 isn't worth bothering with), but also as a wonderful piece of social history and a look at an age that's well and truly passed. The portentous voice over at the end reinforces this beautifully, and its idealistic call to action makes me wonder if we really have learned anything at all in the 70 years that followed.


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