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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Submitted by Mark Fuller

Red Ensign
Kinematograph Weekly: 8th February 1934

Industrial drama, a picture which tackles a big and topical theme in a pedestrian rather than an exciting way. Keen interest and a good measure of drama is contributed by the informative and authentic shipyard backgrounds and the sincerity of its major characterisations. The subject is sufficiently wide to conceal the absence of a clear romantic element. Good popular entertainment.

STORY:- David Barr, enthusiastic and enterprising managing director of a ship-building company, sees a revival in shipping, and determines to start building the first of a new type of boat, one which modern science has made economically sound. His narrow co-directors, however, refuse their support, and Manning, an unscrupulous rival, does his best to retard the work, but Barr, undaunted, lays down his new programme. A catastrophe results in a sudden shortage of money, but June McKinnon, the only woman director of the firm, offers David financial support provided that Lord Dean, to whom she is engaged, agrees to sign over her trust money. Dean, jealous of Barr, refuses, and Barr, in desperation forges his signature. He is found out and goes to prison, but his illegal act turns the tide in favour of his company, and proves his optimism to be justified.

ACTING:- Leslie Banks acts with quiet conviction and determination as Barr. Carol Goodner has a small part as June, but plays it with distinction and charm; Alfred Drayton is good as the unscrupulous Manning, and Frank Vosper is sound as Lord Dean. The supporting types are quite well drawn.

PRODUCTION:- This commentary on conditions in the modern shipyard is not too sound dramatically, and politically and ethically it leaves itself wide open for criticism, but such is the magnitude of the theme that quite good entertainment can be found in its industrial treatment. Sidelights on character are of interest, good melodrama is born of the unscrupulous tactics of the rival shipbuilder, popular patriotism is represented by the determination of the hero to put British shipbuilding on its feet, while the loyalty of the woman brings a hint of romance.

SETTINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHY:- The process of shipbuilding is illustrated in its most interesting stages, industrial conditions are mirrored clearly, and thrills are furnished by the wilful destruction of a nearly completed vessel. Atmosphere is really good.

POINTS OF APPEAL;- popular melodrama, interesting industrial theme, good characterisation, patriotic sentiment, excellent backgrounds, good title

AT A GLANCE :- Industrial drama played against authentic shipyard backgrounds; story a trifle melodramatic, but treatment and characterisation sincere and atmosphere convincing. Good popular entertainment, safe for juveniles.

67 mins

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