THE EALING COMEDIES

 

*  The West London Ealing Studios dominated the early years of British cinema. Most noted for its "Ealing Comedies", with their treatment of lower middle class minor rebellions against bureaucracy, and its celebration of the plucky (Dunkirk) community spirit which gathers to fight off the forces of bureaucracy and Big Business. Pre-1950s films such as Whisky Galore and Passport to Pimlico had established this trend for Ealing's treatment of mildly anarchic libertarian energies; especially films directed by Charles Crichton. By 1953, and The Titfield Thunderbolt, the formula was becoming a little tired and conservative. The Ealing tradition of comedy gave rise, however, to a generation of later comedies, most notably the 'Doctor.' series (beginning with Doctor in the House (1954), the 'Carry On' films (which began with Carry on Sergeant in 1958), and then later the ‘Saint Trinians’ films – one of which (The Great St Trinians Train Robbery) included scenes shot on the (now closed) Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire.

*  The film also seems, as a sort of sub-plot, to try and create and capture on film an idyllic picture of rural England recovering from the ravages of war, (much as British Prime Minster John Major famously tried, amongst much ridicule, to do in 1998) where the sun shone, cricket was played on the village green and people lived in thatched cottages alongside babbling brooks. Everyone lends a hand to help out - community spirit and all that sort of thing! - Everyday folk walk or get around on bicycles and in the village pub (or in the buffet car!) a friendly barmaid serves real ale. In reality, a sort of England that only ever existed in the sub-conscious as being “somewhere nice to live”