The chance to see leading British actress Deborah Kerr (1921-2007) in one of her earliest roles presents itself when as the BFI releases John Baxter’s Love on the Dole (1941) in a Dual Format Edition on 18th January. It will be released alongside BFI Southbank’s Blitz Flicks season of 1940s feature films and propaganda shorts, running throughout January and will be screened during the season.
Set in 1930s Salford during the Great Depression, Love on the Dole follows two young siblings, Harry and Sally Hardcastle, who fall prey to poverty and mass unemployment, and must make terrible sacrifices in order to survive. Initially banned when it was made in 1941, it has never been available on Blu-ray.
Although its stark portrayal of social deprivation led the British Board of Film Censors to ban the film as a ‘very sordid story in very sordid surroundings’, Love on the Dole nonetheless retains an optimistic spirit, reinforcing the ideal that Britain’s working classes could face any hardship. Through its impassioned performances, it shows faith in the values of liberal democracy which Britain upheld throughout the war, and looks forward to a better future.
Sally Hardcastle is played by Deborah Kerr (From Here to Eternity, The Innocents), who was just 19 at the time and at the beginning of her long film career. Geoffrey Hibbert (In Which We Serve) is her brother Harry Hardcastle and Welsh actor Clifford Evans (The Curse of the Werewolf, The Power Game) is her boyfriend Larry Meath.
Love on the Dole will be screened at BFI Southbank on 17th and 21st January (with an introduction by film historian Geoff Brown on Sunday 17th), as part of the season Blitz Flicks running throughout the month. Each weekend, audiences can experience a matinee programme, 1940s-style, with all features playing with a supporting programme of propaganda shorts, just as they would have been shown at the time.
Love on the Dole will be released on UK dual format (Blu-ray and DVD) on 18th January 2015 by the BFI at the RRP of £19.99.
Our Film (Harold French, 1942): Enthralling propaganda film contrasting the Russian and British home front
A Call for Arms (Brian Desmond Hurst, 1940): Government sponsored film about life at a munitions factory
Island People (Paul Rotha, 1940): a film surveying of aspects of the British way of life, as seen through French eyes
Illustrated booklet with new writing by Chris Hopkins and Jo Botting, and full film credits