ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY
a bustling East London almost as a character in itself,
It Always Rains On Sunday all takes place on one fateful
day, the story served up as snapshot of everyday life wrapped
around extraordinary circumstance. And, it's beautifully composed,
this 1947 Ealing Studios classic fully deserving its reputation.
Opening with a newspaper report on an escape from Dartmoor, the
film establishes its raison d'être immediately, then sweeping
us right to a poor, bed-sharing household in Bethnal Green. The
browbeaten Rose Sandigate is stepmother to three children—including
a teenage girl she is jealous of—and wife to a middle-aged
man who is kind but dull, inspiring none of the passion that Tommy
Swann, her former lover of a decade ago did. So it's something
of a shock for her when he shows up at her house, having escaped
from the aforementioned prison, and she is easily manipulable
for provision of food and shelter.
Rose is a tragic character, played wonderfully by Googie Withers.
Fearfully embracing the excitement, she hides Tommy within the
busy household, well aware that her life will soon return to the
humdrum she despises. For her, the entire story plays out within
the house, the rest taking place elsewhere in more vibrant settings,
highlighting her hopelessness as a character. She is the real
prisoner here; Tommy has at least had some control over his circumstances
by escaping, albeit temporarily.
And yet, there is much more to It Always Rains On Sunday,
the film rich with subplot that is told in a non-linear structure,
taking in petty criminals (accounting for some comedy here, which
is used sparingly, alongside the nosy neighbours Rose is hemmed
in by), vibrant market life and womanising—in fact for each
female character, there is a man attempting to control them in
one form or other, although there is little comment on this aspect
other than mere presentation—all held against the backdrop
of postwar poverty, yet with no formulaic misery nor reliance
on Cockney stereotype. It's a stylish story that holds a rather
subtle tension, leading to a thrilling climax as Tommy makes a
break for it, leaving Rose to pick up the pieces.
Well worth a purchase, particularly for a good remastering job
and some insightful extras.
IT NOW (UK) BLU-RAY