Waterloo Road (1945)
Not to be confused with BBC Scotland’s curiously long-running school drama series, Waterloo Road is a wartime drama set in the community in and around London’s Waterloo Station. It tells the story of a boxer, turned spiv, Ted Purvis (Stewart Granger) ...
... who uses a false medical certificate to avoid military service. Surrounded by his wide-boy mates, Purvis sets out to seduce Tillie (Joy Shelton – whose real life husband, actor Sydney Tafler, played his share of wide boys during his career) ...
... the wife of Jim Colter (John Mills) ...
... a railway engineer currently serving in an armoured regiment of the British Army. Alerted by his sister Ruby (Alison Leggatt)...
... to the growing friendship between Tillie and Purvis, he goes ‘absent without leave’ and returns home to resolve the situation. His hunt for his wife and her would-be lover takes him through the pubs, arcades, tattoo parlours, hairdressing salons and dance halls of south London, always one step ahead of the Military Police, before resulting in the inevitable confrontation between the two men.
|John Mills & Stewart Granger|
Although little seen and largely forgotten, Waterloo Road is an effective story of life in wartime Britain. Its urban setting, though devoid of action, effectively shows the impact of war on the population. In the opening scenes Dr Montgomery (Alastair Sims) ...
...is seen walking through rubble filled streets as he reminisces about people who had lived in the area. In a well executed fade, the bombed street of the latter war years is transformed into a street before it was bombed.
This isn’t the mythologised version of London in the Blitz, but a fully realised version in which both good and bad are revealed - such as the gangs of spivs who escape from the dance hall toilets when the police raid the afternoon dance:
The film carefully confronts social issues such as infidelity ...
|Stewart Granger & Joy Shelton|
... showing how easy it was for bored housewives, separated from their men, to become easy prey for attractive young men who managed to avoid military service. As well as a sympathetic treatment of the women tempted to stray, the film is sympathetic to men (such as Colter) who put their personal life before their duty. Reflecting the realities of wartime life, there is also a sub-plot concerning a Canadian soldier, Mike Duggan (Leslie Bradley) ...
... who has deserted from the army out of boredom but immediately returns to his unit when he discovers they are being sent to fight overseas. Then there’s the hairdresser Toni (Jean Kent) ...
... who takes a bottle of whisky with her to the air raid shelter at night. Or Jim Colter’s little sister vera (Vera Frances) who tries to avoid school on the grounds that the finds it dull and frustrating. These are all scenes that would have been familiar to residents of wartime London.
As usual, it’s easy for the viewer to work out who the bad guys are by how they dress – i.e. they wear bow ties:
|Stewart Granger & ?|
|Anna Konstam & Dennis Harkin|
Also look out for:
|Frank Atkinson (right)|
|Johnnie Schofield (right)|
|Leonard Sharp & John Boxer|
The film is also interesting for the views of Waterloo station and the surrounding area:
Of course , it is also worth noting that Waterloo Road was another example of Jean Kent appearing in her underwear:
Currently available on DVD