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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Classic Film Review: Hindle Wakes (1952)

Also known as Holiday Week, Hindle Wakes tells the story of a young mill worker and her employer's son who become properly acquainted while on holiday in Blackpool. Jenny Hawthorn (Lisa Daniely) goes off with her friend, Mary (Sandra Dorne), wanting something different from the norm. She finds it when she encounters Alan Jeffcote (Brian Worth), a man she has always admired at home. She decides on a whim to go off to Wales with him, setting a tragic chain of events in motion.

Essentially, this film serves as an advert for Blackpool and Llandudno. The two are displayed at their best and, really, the setting becomes another character. As for the actual characters, there is no real chemistry between Jenny and Alan and her posh accent really does the character no justice at all - her parents, played by Leslie Dwyer and the wonderful Joan Hickson, are real Northerners and the impact of Jenny's character is diluted by the fact that she sounds no different to Alan and his family. Alan, meanwhile, is a difficult character to like - spoiled, selfish and workshy.

What was trundling along as a fairly contented film suddenly got very sombre very quickly, with a twist I wasn't expecting. From that point on, it became a much more serious prospect, divorced from the Big Dipper and picturesque beaches. I did feel that the tragedy didn't have the resonance in the finale that it could have and there were a few threads that could have been joined up to make Jenny feel worse about what had happened. However, I did think that the finale was half-true to Jenny's character - the other half would have remained discontented with it, I feel.

This is a good British film with some good performances along with pinches of overblown acting. It shows a snippet of Northern life whilst also grappling with the question of female sexuality and how it fits into the new world, although the play was written and set far earlier than this film version.

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