Brits Battle Bureaucrats
Ealing Studios is best known for the comedies made at its London facilities in the aftermath of World War II. The cycle began with Hue and Cry (1947), which celebrates the street culture of unsupervised children playing in bombed-out buildings, and it continued for a decade. Many of these movies combined a cozy community spirit with bitingly anti-authoritarian satire; they are films about people who trust their neighbors and family but are ready to revolt against any larger institution that starts encroaching on their lives. In Passport to Pimlico (1949), a London neighborhood discovers that it is technically an independent enclave and thus is free of rationing and other restrictions. In Whisky Galore! (1949), a Scottish village conceals a freighter’s worth of whiskey from the Home Guard. In The Man in the White Suit (1951), corporate and union bureaucrats unite to suppress a useful invention because it threatens their bottom line. When you hear the phrase “Ealing comedy,” these are the sorts of stories the speaker means.
But the spirit behind these motion pictures wasn’t limited to Ealing. Elsewhere in England, other filmmakers were drinking from the same well; their movies may not have been as good as the best Ealing efforts, but they were still entertaining, and they had the same political edge. Here are two of them.
First up is Green Grow the Rushes (1951), based on a novel by Howard Clewes, directed by
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