Love on the Dole, the 1941 film based on Walter Greenwood’s bestselling novel about life in 1930s Salford, will get a special screening at HOME this week.
Manchester cultural commentator CP Lee will provide a special introduction of the film tomorrow night as part of Manchester Literature Festival.
The film is set in Hankey Park, a fictional town based on Salford, and follows the working-class Hardcastle family in the 1930s.
Greenwood said in an old interview: “I have tried to show what life means to a young man living under the shadow of the dole.”
It was actress Deborah Kerr’s first leading role and she went on to star in classics such as The King and I, An Affair to Remember and From Here to Eternity.
Kerr played Sally Hardcastle, a young girl who is planning to marry Larry Meath but still lives at home with her parents and brother.
When all the men lose their jobs, Sally is forced to work hard to survive.
Her fiancée organises a mass protest which clashes violently with police and Sally is eventually forced to ‘sell herself’ to a local bookmaker who has promised to find jobs for her brother and father.
Attempts to film the book were censored several times in the 1930s by the British Board of Film Censors, who said it was: “A very sordid story in very sordid surroundings.”
“The language throughout is very coarse and full of swearwords.”
Kerr reflected on the film later in her life and said that the director, John Baxter, had ‘a great understanding of the British working class.’
“Who can ever forget Sally’s father cutting one boiled egg into enough slices for each member of the family?” she said.
Critics loved the film, but it was not a commercial success at the time.
Love on the Dole is now seen as a classic and one of the first ‘kitchen sink’ dramas to show the lives of working-class people.
Local legend CP Lee is an expert on Manchester’s film history and has also worked as a lecturer at the University of Salford, and as a musician, writer, broadcaster and guest speaker.
Love on the Dole will be screened at home tomorrow night at 6pm.
Tickets are available to buy here.
Image courtesy of Anglo-American Film Corporation, with thanks.