During the depression in England, a young lady from Lancashire decides to be a rich bookmaker's mistress, just to help the rest of her family who are unemployed.During the depression in England, a young lady from Lancashire decides to be a rich bookmaker's mistress, just to help the rest of her family who are unemployed.During the depression in England, a young lady from Lancashire decides to be a rich bookmaker's mistress, just to help the rest of her family who are unemployed.
Kerr plays Sally, a teenager who lives with her parents and her 17-year-old brother (Geoffrey Hibbert). The family makes do as the Depression goes along with the kids more worried about love and marriage than earning a living. But then the father's work week is cut to 3 days and the son is let go after he finishes his apprenticeship.
Kerr's idealistic boyfriend gets killed in a street riot when the government starts cutting back on unemployment checks and welfare. The son's girlfriend gets pregnant but no one can afford to feed and care for the youngsters.
As things gets worse and worse, Kerr finally gives in to a wealthy bookie (Frank Cellier) and becomes his "housekeeper" with a promise to get jobs for her father and brother. Kerr is shunned by the neighbors, her reputation is ruined, but the family survives.
Amid the grim surroundings are some wonderful vignettes. The son wins some money on a horse race, but instead of saving it he does as his father suggests and blows the money on a trip for him and his girl friends to Blackpool. As the father says, it'll give him something wonderful to look back on all his life.
Another subplot concerns a gaggle of old ladies, led by an agent for a pawn shop who measures out sharp advice along with shots of booze at threepence a drink. They serve as a sort of Greek Chorus, making comments on everything that happens in the neighborhood.
Kerr, at age 20, radiates warmth despite the harsh story. Hibbert is also excellent as the stoic brother. George Carney and Nary Merrall score as the hapless parents. Clifford Evans plays the doomed boy friend. Marie Ault, Marjorie Rhodes, Maire O'Neill, and Iris Vandeleur are terrific as the old ladies. The final speech, given by Merrall is a high point of the film. Joyce Howard is the pregnant girl friend.
I suppose there are many similarities between this story and Steinbeck's GRAPES OF WRATH. What struck me, however, is how the political story of the working poor in 1930s England has so many parallels to our current recession.
This is one to search for.
- May 6, 2012