Factory girls Fanny Hawthorn and Mary Hollins decide to take their vacation at Blackpool — Britain’s version of Coney Island. There, Fanny meets Allan, the wealthy son of factory owner Nathaniel Jeffcote. The two impetuously ditch Mary to spend some time alone. When her family discovers what happened, they confront Nathaniel, who forces his son to propose marriage to the girl. Fanny’s decision shocks everyone…
In filming the popular stage play, director Maurice Elvey decided to provide a complete back-story. In doing so, he liberated the film from the conventions of the theater. The location scenes with Fanny and Mary are incredible. Using the actual mills in Lancashire gives the film an astonishing documentary realism, while the moving camera flying in and around Blackpool’s famed rides like the plunging Big-Dipper and Helter-Skelter, and climbing the heights of the Tower is as good as any in the history of cinema.
When Stanley Houghton’s play opened in 1912, a near riot broke out in London. Famed anarchist Emma Goldman proclaimed it as one of the most important advancements in liberating women from society’s sexual double standards. Even today, Fanny’s final decision — a choice that ripped apart the conventional morals of Edwardian society — astonishes audiences with its pure courage. For many, Hindle Wakes is England’s equivalent to Ibsen’s The Doll’s House.
Starring: Estelle Brody, Norman McKinnel and Humberstone Wright. Directed by Maurice Elvey, assisted by Victor Saville. Based on the play by Stanley Houghton. Two original scores by In the Nursery and Philip Carli. Restored by the British Film Institute.
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