Painted Boats DVD
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Directed by Charles Crichton
Produced in 1945
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
A beautiful gem of poetic realism from Ealing that will be irresistible to anyone who loves British Transport Films. David Parkinson takes a journey on the cut.
If the great Soviet director Alexander Dovzhenko had made a film about canal boats, it wouldn't have looked too different from this Ealing offering from producer Michael Balcon and director Charles Crichton.
Made in the summer of 1944, but only released after the war, it's a classic piece of poetic realism, in which factual information is combined with low-key drama to convey the hardships and joys of life on the cut. Typifying the studio's obsession with tradition and progress, the story centres on the romance between motorised boatman Robert Griffiths (who envisages quitting the waterways after fighting for his country) and Jenny Laird, whose doughty father, Bill Blewitt, prefers the four-legged kind of horse power.
Some of the accents sound plummier than James McKechnie's delivery of poet Louis MacNeice's evocative commentary. But Douglas Slocombe's photography is sublime and Crichton's juxtaposition of close-ups and bucolic vistas helps capture the grit and grind of narrow boat existence, while also emphasising its sense of community and the importance of its contribution to the war effort. A neglected gem.
David Parkinson on 4th February 2009
Author of 223 reviews
For generations the Stoner and Smith families have lived and worked on the canals. But now this idyllic way of life is threatened - the younger generation long to break away and discover life outside the canal boats. Ted Stoner (Robert Griffiths) dreams of living in a big town but his girlfriend, Mary Smith (Jenny Laird), is more of a traditionalist and wants to stay on the narrow boats - will their very different dreams tear them apart?
Unashamedly celebrating the world of men and women who work England's canals, this is a charming Ealing Studios romance filmed on the Grand Union Canal and set against some of England's most beautiful scenery.
Publisher: Studio Canal
Length: 61 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 11th January 2010
Cat No: OPTD1471