Tuesday, November 20, 2018

No Trees in the Street (1959)

Talking Pictures TV showed this on Saturday evening and are showing it again tomorrow at 9pm.

It is a film I have long wanted to see, as it features Melvyn Hayes in an early serious role and the whole story is told to the young David Hemmings as an Awful Warning.

As you may gather from this trailer, it turned out to be desperately overwrought. Only Sylvia Syms emerges with much credit.

Melvyn Hayes gives his all, but looks awfully like a murderous Charles Hawtrey. At his most emotional there are distinct echoes of his Gunner 'Gloria' Beaumont from It Ain't Half Hot Mum 15 years later.

What really struck me was the film's attitude towards the London slums and the people who lived in them. 

The fact that the Kennedy Street of the film is no longer there is celebrated. The ground has been cleared and new flats built (though there is a lot of empty land around them) and even the name has vanished.

I am reminded of what I wrote about Wheat Street and Wharf Street in Leicester's most notorious slum district:
all that life was swept away as though Wharf Street was the city's dirty secret. The district was not improved: it was destroyed.
Having cleared the slums decades ago, Leicester has found nothing to do with the area since.
You can see the same pattern in Nottingham, where the slums of The Meadows district were cleared and the area still feels empty today.

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