This Is My Street (1963)
This is largely forgotten 1960s 'kitchen sink drama' about a working class community in Battersea, South London. Maybe it gets overlooked because it was produced by Peter Rogers, better known as the producer of the Carry On films rather than serious studies of the hopes and dreams of working class Londoners.
The film follows Margery (June Ritchie) ...
... a working class housewife who is bored with her as a shop-girl ...
|Susan Burnet & June Ritchie|
... in a department store where her manager is Mr Fingus - or as the girls call him 'Mr Fingers', since he can't keep his hands to himself:
If that's not enough, Marge finds little excitement at home. Her husband is only interested in going to the pub to play darts with his mates.
|June Ritchie & Mike Pratt|
Whilst his dreams stop at the doors of the pub, her horizons are broader. So it doesn't help that next door her mother has got a lodger, Harry (Ian Hendry) ...
... who's aiming for something a bit more fun than a quick hello in the mornings:
|June Ritchie & Ian Hendry|
It seems no one is happy with their lives. June needs an escape from a husband who thinks of nothing but beer and darts. Yet her aspirations reveal a sense of snobbishness: she hates to see her husband eat his tea wearing just his vest, doesn't like to see him snipping his toenails ...
|Mike Pratt & June Ritchie|
... and doesn't allow their daughter to run free with the other local kids.
Harry also wants to make something of himself. He lives in the same streets he was brought up in, but drives a flash car and owns a nightclub, seeing it as a way to move forward. Maybe that's what attracts him to Marge - they are both looking for something else.
Elsewhere in the street is Steve...
... he's looking for something between the pages of his bible, whilst his wife ...
... is looking for something between the sheets of another man's bed. Meanwhile their daughter Maureen looks to older men to escape from the tedium of life as a waitress in a café, hooking up with the local doctor ...
... and then becoming the target for a man she meets in a nightclub:
If she's dreaming of jewels, pretty clothes and nightclubs, others would be happy for something closer to home: café boy Charlie (John Hurt) ...
... considers Maureen's glamour (and her tight leather skirt) as more than he could ever hope for:
In this tail of desire and aspiration, the modern viewer can sit back and wonder what it is they all yearn for. They want out of these streets and, within years, the real inhabitants of these streets found out the reality of these dreams when they were flattened. The streets that are, in many ways, among the film's true stars are gone now. There's an appropriate line when Marge's sister returns home with her husband-to-be, a young doctor. She's done well for herself, as they say. When her mother admits she thinks that the husband to be is from a better home, her daughter corrects her: a better house maybe, but not a better home. One can't help but understanding Marge's desire to escape, but she doesn't think about the sense of community that will be lost forever once she leaves. Her husband may have no dreams in life, but at least he has friends and family around him.
Here's Marge's home street, Haverlock Terrace in 1963, a place alive with neighbours and children playing:
... and here it is now:
We see Havelock Terrace lined with homes and filled with families:
... and Maureen leaving her house to enter Gladstone Terrace ...
|Pre-war map of the area|
... but it's all gone now. Here's the junction of what was one Gladstone Terrace with Haverlock Terrace. Maureen's house stood next to where the silver car is parked:
This is a rather good little film, that shows a side of London that is long gone. Fans of seeing London on screen should certainly seek it out, as should anyone who likes to think of themselves as a fan of sixties cinema. Currently available from Network DVD:
Also appearing are: