I assume the milltown of Hindle is asleep when the factories are whirring. The idea of this British silent movie is to show what happens when the workers are on holiday for a week. I have to say nothing very entertaining but the main thing is this is unremittingly grim worse apart from the leading lady we don't feel for any of the characters or at least I didn't. This is to me looks like an average silent rather than a classic as it was described in the run up to this screening on BBC4.
On the positive side the leading lady Estelle Brody is quite sympathetic and has some of the screen magnetism of Clara Bow. In the second half of the movie she really steals the show and her character Fanny Hawthorn is the only person to emerge really with any dignity. The movie is an interesting time capsule on attitudes to class and there is some fascinating footage of the Lancashire seaside resort of Blackpool back then. The director also uses an effective point of view shot to depict the experience of being on the roller coaster at the Pleasure Beach.
The first hour I found rather dull dramatically. There isn't really much interaction between the characters on camera which means you can't really build a rapport with them. Fanny fakes a note that she is still in Blackpool but really goes off with Allan (the mill boss' son) to Llandudno. Unfortunately her ruse is discovered when the Blackpool party including her friend are all drowned (!)
Fanny avoids this fate but all the emphasis of course is on the lying and going off with this man. Fanny's parents are depicted overacting terribly her mother in particular becomes a monster who is forever clenching for fists (does anyone do this in real life?), while the weak father is playing with his hands in weird ways. First of all they give Fanny a rollicking for escaping the drowning (!) then the hypocrite of a mother says she they can lever the boss' son into marrying her.
Allan is an empty headed individual with apparently no love for anyone who just wants to marry for show. His mother wants him to go through with a marriage to an incredibly cold woman who says she loves him but sees him as married already to Fanny (!) Thankfully Fanny won't have a bar of this because she knows a loveless marriage to this idiot would be a disaster. In the final irony the poor girl is now condemned as a scarlet woman for going with Allan and has to leave Hindle.
Did anyone ever take this nonsense seriously ? Presumably yes : the divisions of class is certainly an interesting theme but the attitudes on display here are more Victorian than Jazz Age. There isn't a lot of light and shade just very simplistic goods and bads. As I said Miss Brody and a few directorial touches save it but this is a very parochial film I'm not surprised didn't travel well. After A Cottage in Dartmoor (1929) a disappointment.
The score seemed to underline the sombre mood of this film. It is string heavy and while there are some memorable themes it tends to get a little repetitive and annoying. There is some jazzy music which accompanies dancing in the ballroom which is good.
In summary Hindle Wakes (1927) is a bit like watching a Biograph short extended to two hours and set in England. Its attitudes are outdated even for 1927. (2 out of 5)
The main reason I watched this was for the locations. A few good shots of Blackpool especially the Pleasure Beach and the famous wooden rollercoaster - the first I ever rode on. I thought the film captured perfectly the thrill and anticipation of these hard working mill workers about to enjoy a few days off. And Llandudno looked an awfully romantic location back then. The views of the mill town itself didn't look authentic to me.
Otherwise a fairly predictable story. Thing rarely work out when it involves people from both sides of the tracks.
A fascinating glimpse of Lancashire life at the time and this would last until the 1950's. Good performances from all involved.
Glad I saw it but doubt if I could sit for 2 hours and watch it again.
Well, as an American who travels in the UK very often, I found the film totally captivating, and I enjoyed it immensely, especially the photography, which was really well done. I've only just returned recently from the Blackpool area, and I was fascinated by the location shots. I know Wales, too, and enjoyed the references. Maybe being from another country, but knowing the UK, and being more than just a connoisseur of silent films, makes me have a totally different perspective than someone from the UK. I don't know. I really enjoyed watching this. It's a time capsule if there ever was one. I'd show it to Americans just to make them understand England from 1860-1938. I think it captures the northwest element of England well. Am I wrong?
My reaction really doesn't have anything to do with the locations as I said in my review the footage of Blackpool was fascinating. The problem to me with this film is the characters are forgotten to show the pretty scenery and we don't have enough time to really get to know them. In the second half we basically find out that Allan is self centered and is blind to a good thing when he sees it. Fanny at least sees through his falseness but where is our sympathy meant to go ? If this is realistic to 1920s Lancashire why make Estelle Brody the most sympathetic character and most of the others disreputable rogues who only care about appearances ? Apart from Fanny Hawthorn is there anyone else you can really understand or sympathise with here ? What is the point of the movie exactly : to comment on class divisions or just depict them documentary style ? You do a commentary on such things by having engaging characters you can relate to. There are other silents that do this much better : class division is hardly an original theme. To sum it up I just didn't care about these folk their attitudes were silly whether accurate to the time or not, I just couldn't make the journey in time to meet (this can happen sometimes watching old films) them and take most of this seriously.
This was obviously a classic British play as there was a
1931 "Hindle Wakes" as well. :o Maybe it was a case of
"if at first you don't succeed...." or "when you're on a good
Belle Christle was good as Fannie, playing her as a very
independent girl. Edmund Gwen was his usual jovial self
as the father and Sybil Thorndyke was almost the film's
villian as the grasping mother. I don't know who played
Allan but he doesn't come across as the fool in the earlier
film (which I haven't seen).
Apart from one scene where she is running down the
street from neighbours calling her names - Fannie triumphs.
By going back to the mill, people admire her for sticking to
her principles and rejecting the shallow, rich boy.