Charles Crichton (director)
Cert PG (certificate)
80 min. (length)
21 January 2013 (released)
21 January 2013
Want to know what Britain’s youth was up to before the arrival of rock ‘n’ roll? Then watch this restored 1950’s Ealing melodrama about the life and loves of four young working-class women, who escape their drudgery by hitting local dance hall Palais on Saturday nights.
Everything about the film seems so quaint and utterly out of date, it’s almost amusing to watch (even though the film is a romantic melodrama). Whereas some other movies from that era (including musicals) have ‘aged’ well, Dance Hall remains stuck in a time warp. It’s a dreary world in which teenagers and almost-adults are incredibly well behaved, and the height of rebel yell is smashing a pint glass in the pub.
At the same time, the film makes for an insightful ‘documentary’ as far as life in post-war Britain is concerned – though I doubt that female factory workers chirpily whistled the hits of the day while operating noisy machinery!
Main character is Eve (Natasha Parry), who not only lives for her Saturday nights out, but is adamant to win an upcoming dance contest held in the Palais. And when I say ‘dance’, I mean dancing to the music of ‘Ted Heath’s Big Band’, while observing strict dance floor etiquette at all time.
Georgie (a young Petula Clark) and Carole (an even younger Diana Dors) are amongst her friends, and the gang usually end up looking rather glitzy indeed whenever they hit the local nightlife. Must have been a well-paid factory job then.
Although Petula Clark’s character ‘Georgie’ fails to win any dance contest in the film, it’s interesting to note that in real life, Clark was featured on the cover of the June 1950 issue of ‘The Dancing Times’ and was awarded the ‘Institute of Dancing’ bronze and silver medals for her work in the movie! Talk about life imitating art!
Romance turns to melodrama when Eve gets married to Phil (Donald Houston), and it emerges that he’s a less than capable dancer. Headstrong and hell-bent on winning the contest, Eve takes a different partner (on the dance floor) in order to win.
Unfortunately, Phil turns out to be the jealous type and it’s not before long that the freshly married couple are dangled up in domestic rows and petty arguments.
Will there be a happy ending to all the quarrels and the drama?
Find out by asking your mum or granny to order a copy of the DVD (which also has a ‘Making Of…’ featurette thrown in).