It Always Rains on Sunday
It Always Rains on Sunday – 1947 | 92 mins | Drama | B&W
Googie Wither’s last Ealing film was It Always Rains on Sunday, directed by Robert Hamer and adapted by him, Angus MacPhail and Henry Cornelius from a novel by Arthur la Bern about events one Sunday in the East End. Rose Sandigate is a former barmaid married to a middle-aged man who has two teenage daughters from an earlier union. She is a bossy, strident Bethnal Green housewife, coping with the difficulties of rationing, near-slum housing and a dreary environment. A former lover who was jailed years earlier for robbery with violence escapes from prison and turns to her for help in making his getaway, hiding in the air raid shelter in the backyard. It is Sunday morning and the lunch must be cooked, the girls sorted out for their misdemeanours of the previous night and the husband packed off to the pub out of the way. The strain is intolerable and as the day progresses the police net closes in, a newspaper reporter guessing where the man might be hiding. By nightfall her secret is out and she tries to kill herself, while the prisoner once again flees, only to be cornered in a marshalling yard and arrested by the patient detective inspector who has been trailing him.
It is a surprisingly bleak film, in spite of the rich detailing of life in London’s East End. Googie Withers is a prisoner of her situation, and even her attempt to escape through suicide is doomed to fail. It is a difficult part for, in spite of her bad temper and at one point a violent assault on the elder, more sluttish of the two stepdaughters (Susan Shaw), in which she literally tears the girl’s dress off in her rage, we are expected to feel sympathy for her. The ex-lover, played by John McCallum (by then Googie’s husband), is not a heroic figure, and it becomes plain that he is only interested in her to save his own skin. The amiable husband, played by Edward Chapman, a shuffling, contented, dart-playing working man of the old school, is perhaps the only character, apart from the professional-mannered police inspector (Jack Warner), who is sound and sympathetic in character, and at the end of the film in a touching hospital scene he quietly forgives his wife for what has happened.
The drab early post-war atmosphere is carefully established – the black street surfaces coated with a film of wet grease, the regulars hanging around a coffee stall scanning the sports pages of The News of the World, the Sunday morning street market with its yelling hawkers. The flat-fronted little terrace house at 26 Coronet Grove, where most of the action takes place, is a few yards from a grimy railway bridge which always seems to have a line of goods trucks or a smoke-belching engine crossing it. There is a rich assortment of secondary characters – small-time crooks, a flashy Jewish spiv, a womanising record shop owner, a sanctimonious ‘fence’, a snide local reporter. When the film was released there were protests from the real inhabitants of Bethnal Green that it painted too black a picture of life there but, as an example of Ealing’s pursuit of the slice-of-life technique, It Always Rains on Sunday is a skilful work, and one of the best films by the most talented of the directors to emerge from Balcon’s stable.
ExtractŠ George Perry: Forever Ealing.
Robert Hamer: Director
Duncan Sutherland: Art Direction
Henry Cornelius: Associate Producer
Douglas Slocombe: Cinematography
Ernest Irving: Composer
Michael Truman: Editing
Georges Auric: Music
Michael Balcon: Producer
Henry Cornelius: Script
Robert Hamer: Script
Angus MacPhail: Script
Stephen Dalby: Sound
Richard Dendy: Special Effects
Googie Withers: Rose Sandigate
Edward Chapman: George Sandigate
Susan Shaw: Vi Sandigate
Patricia Plunkett: Doris Sandigate
David Lines: Alfie Sandigate
John McCallum: Tommy Swann
Sydney Tafler: Morrie Hyams
John Slater: Lou Hyams
Jack Warner: Det-Sgt Fothergill
Frederick Piper: Det-Sgt Leech
Michael Howard: Slopey Collins
Grace Arnold: Landlady
Alfie Bass: Dicey
Jimmy Hanley: Whitey