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