The Agitator – 1944 | 85 mins | Drama | B&W
Thought provoking social commentary based on the William Riley novel Peter Pettinger. In The Agitator both capital and labour are dealt with even-handedly although the story does lose direction in its later stages as the drama gives way to lighter touches.
At a public meeting, tub-thumping union man Peter Pettinger (William Hartnell) makes some scathing allegations that the late father of his employer Mark Overend (Frederick Leister) grew rich off his own deceased father’s Model 6 invention and never paid proper recompense.
When the claims are printed in a local newspaper, Mr Overand confronts the idealistic young Pettinger about the allegations and vows to make him pay if they are found to be untrue but resolve the dispute if Pettinger’s accusations are truthful. Overand gives his deputy Mr. Ambler (J.H. Roberts) the task of investigating the claim and is shocked to soon discover Pettinger was telling the truth.
Shortly afterwards Mr Overand passes away, and leaves an ironic double-edged sword for Pettinger in his will; the sum of £40,000 and the challenge of owning Overands Engineering factory. Pettinger accepts the challenge but soon finds himself out of his depth and without friends. His one-time co-workers now view him as a hypocrite and class traitor, whilst the affluent of the town cold-shoulder him still recalling his aggressive manner and brusque rhetoric.
The foremost thorn in Pettinger’s side is works foreman Tom Tetley (John Laurie), who plots against his hated new boss and eventually uncovers the truth of Pettinger’s inheritance. The Model 6 was invented by dotty ex-worker Ben Duckett (Moore Marriott) and he had been swindled out of his share of the money by Pettinger’s late-father. The news comes as a devastating blow to Pettinger but one that finally brings him to his senses.
John Harlow: Director
Arthur Grant: Cinematography
James Wilson: Cinematography
Louis H Jackson: Producer
Edward Dryhurst: Script
William Hartnell: Peter Pettinger
Mary Morris: Lettie Shackleton
John Laurie: Tom Tetley
Moore Marriott: Ben Duckett
JH Roberts: Mr Ambler
George Carney: Bill Shackleton
Frederick Leister: Mark Overend
Joss Ambler: Charles Sheridan
Elliott Mason: Mrs Pettinger
Cathleen Nesbitt: Mrs Montrose
Joyce Heron: Helen Montrose
Edward Rigby: Charlie Branfield
Philip Godfrey: Bert Roberts
Moira Lister: Joan Shackleton
Beatrice Varley: Mrs Shackleton