Saturday, February 17, 2018

It Always Rains on Sunday

Recently I watched It Always Rains on Sunday, off one of those cheap DVD-Rs put out by some company selling a bunch of British movies on DVD-R.

Rose Sandigate (Googie Withers) is the stepmother in a family with her husband George (Edward Chapman), adult daughters Doris (Patricia Plunkett) and Vi (Susan Shaw), and son Alfie. They live in the East End of London where Rose is a housewife and the two daughters both have boyfriends, Doris' being a good working-class guy and Vi's being married bandleader Morry (Sydney Tafler). Vi's high living has her coming home late one Saturday night, by which time the Sunday morning papers are already out and we learn from a small notice on one of those that a Tommy Swann (John McCallum) has escaped from Dartmoor prison.

The obviousness with which the newspaper shows that headline is a sign that Tommy is going to play an important part in the movie, and sure enough, that happens in the morning. One of the windowpanes in the Sandigates' back door is broken, and it's suggested to use the blackout paper left over from the war to cover it up. (The movie was released in 1947, so there are other references to the recently concluded war, such as one about rationing.) Rose goes out to the shed, and finds Tommy.

Tommy had good reason for showing up there: Rose was his girlfriend before he wound up in prison. He's come to her asking for help to hide him until he can get away at night. Of course, he didn't know that Rose got married in the meantime, which causes all sorts of conflicts. For Rose, the marriage to George was in part a marriage of convenience, but she seems to have grown to like George, and certainly young Alfie. The two adult daughters are still more resentful.

Against the backdrop of all this are the personal dramas of the two adult daughters' relationships. Doris runs into Morry's brother Lou (John Slater) who offers her a higher-paying job, although it might not be an honest job. Vi's staying out until all hours gets her into trouble at home and her relationship with Morry could cause problems when Alfie and his friend catch the two kissin in Morry's record-store day job. There's also a couple of Tommy's friends who are trying to fence some stolen goods which unfortunately for them turned out to be roller skates and not anything valuable.

It Always Rains on Sunday is a complex movie with a lot going on, but it's actually a pretty good movie. The main story of the man on the run is an old one but solidly presented here, and the subplots are all handled well, even coming together nicely at times. There's also excellent atmosphere of London's East End. One thing that surprised me was the portrayal of Morry and Lou as obviously Jewish, down to their use of Yiddish slang. Sure there's a Jewish community in London, but I don't think it's something that gets shown on the screen very much.

I can highly recommend It Always Rains on Sunday.

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