Since 1902 films have been made at Ealing Studios. Possibly better known for comedies, like The Ladykillers, they have also made films in other genres, like the film noir Nowhere To Go, and this melodrama. But how has a film made in 1950 that deals with a cultural phenomena that has now all but disappeared aged?
Four working class girls escape from the dreary day to day job of working in factories by spending their evenings at the Palais, dancing the night away. Georgie aspires to be a dancing champion & hopes that at the forthcoming Greater London Amateur Dancing Championships she and her partner Peter will be able to prove they are the best and win.
Meanwhile, Eve puts her recent marriage to Phil in danger when she cooses another man as her partner for the competition.
Will Georgie win? And will Eve be able to save her marriage to the jealous Phil? All will be revealed at the New Years Eve party to celebrate 1951.
While my wife finds it funny to tease me that the only films I like are the ones with guns or aliens in them (there might be a small smattering of truth in this I suppose) I do find something charming about black & white films. They are usually a window into a time that seems so alien to us now, with the values & troubles of the time that they were made, in the same way that modern films will prove to do the same for our grandchildren.
Saying that, however, I will admit that I found Dance Hall quite hard going. It’s not that it’s a bad film, as it isn’t, it’s just that nothing really happens. The plot is so gentle and lightweight that there is really no substance to the proceedings. This does mean, unfortunately, that it all seems a little twee and stilted.
Saying that, however there are some things that make this an interesting curio. For a film in the 1950s to be told from the female perspective & make the women the main characters rather than the men was almost unheard of, which does make Dance Hall unique. As does the fact that in the 1950s Ealing Studios were mainly releasing comedies & this drama was a complete departure from the norm for them.
Also it features Petula Clark, a popular child star, in one of her ealiest “adult” roles in which she received her first “adult” screen kiss and there are a host of well knwn British actors from the time lending their expertise to the film.
Unfortunately, that all amounts to naught when the plotline is so slim & the true drama of the piece never really materialises. If you can’t figure out how it is all going to end then you’re probably either not very well versed in films or have no real imagination.
Dance Hall isn’t a bad film, it’s just that I want mor from my film viewing experiences. As not very much really happens I found it to be slow & not all that interesting. If you are a fan of Petula Clark or Diana Dors then feel free to add a “corn” or two to the rating, but I find it hard to recommend this to anyone who isn’t a fan already.