by Allan Fish
(UK 1951 81m) DVD1/2
Knight in shining armour
p Sidney Cole, Michael Balcon d Alexander Mackendrick w Roger MacDougall, John Dighton, Alexander Mackendrick ph Douglas Slocombe ed Bernard Gribble m Benjamin Frankel art Jim Morahan spc Sydney Pearson sound Stephen Dalby
Alec Guinness (Sidney Stratton), Joan Greenwood (Daphne Birnley), Cecil Parker (Mr Birnley), Michael Gough (Michael Corland), Vida Hope (Bertha), Howard Marion Crawford (Cranford), Ernest Thesiger (Sir John Kierlaw), Miles Malleson (tailor), Henry Mollison (Hoskins), George Benson (lodger), Edie Martin (landlady), Mandy Miller (girl),
Ealing comedies have long been a staple diet amongst fans of the so-called golden-age of British cinema, part of our national heritage to be cherished for ever more. In truth, though they made a host of classics, including Passport to Pimlico, The Titfield Thunderbolt and Hue and Cry, only four stand up to real scrutiny over half a century on; Whisky Galore, The Lavender Hill Mob, Kind Hearts and Coronets and this wonderful satire from Ealing’s greatest director, Alexander Mackendrick. Many who associate Ealing with a cosy England that is no more often find Mackendrick’s later acerbic Sweet Smell of Success to be the antithesis of his earlier work. In reality, there’s more than a little darkness in this earlier masterpiece, too. David Thomson was right to point out the debts to Kafka, and it also dates a lot better than the later Boulting satires (such as I’m All Right Jack).
Sidney Stratton is a working class lad who has been thrown out of his Cambridge fellowship after some radical experiments go awry. Finding himself eventually in Wellsborough at Birnleys, the biggest mill in the land, he manages to swindle his way into the laboratory. When he claims to have invented an everlasting fabric, he not only antagonises the industry and unions but attracts the attention of the owner’s daughter. Continue Reading »