Wednesday, September 02, 2020

The Yellow Balloon is on Talking Pictures TV this Sunday

One of the key texts in my interest in children and bombsites in post-war British films is The Yellow Balloon from 1953.

In that first post on the subject I noted that, while in Hue and Cry from 1947 "a damaged London belongs to errand boys and the film celebrates their independence and resourcefulness," films soon began to take a more equivocal view of the subject.

Soon they were was no equivocation left:

In The Yellow Balloon (1953) and The Weapon (1956), bombsites are places where terrible things befall small boys who play on them.

Part of this, I suspect, is to do with an anxiety that the nuclear family need to be reinforced as more collectivist wartime era recedes.

The boys in Hue and Cry have jobs and long trousers, but the 1950s boys seem infantilised in comparison. Andrew Ray in The Yellow Balloon is given a hiding by his father Kenneth More.

The Yellow Balloon is a good film, with a rather scary climax played out in a disused tube station (largely recreated in the studio).

It is so scary, in fact, that the censors gave it one of their first X certificates, which ruined the production company's plans to promote the film.

One effect of this was that the film's young star was unable to see it. In the event, it was reclassified as an A after complaints by the cinema chains.

There is a scene towards the end that tends to support my view that British films became steadily more genteel as the war receded.

Andrew Ray meets a dancer played by Hy Hazell and she persuades him to flee the villain into whose clutches he has fallen (that's William Sylvester, seen in the clip above) and return to his parents.

We are told Hazell is a dancer, but suspect she is a prostitute. The way this is passed over without comment contrasts with Dora Bryan's shameless turn as Rose in 1948's The Fallen Idol.

I am writing this post tonight because you can see The Yellow Balloon on Talking Pictures TV on Sunday at 6pm.

Later. I had misremembered Hy Hazell's role a little: she is a teacher of dancing. I recall reading somewhere that it was originally planned to make her a prostitute, but the plan was dropped in favour of this more respectable profession.

No comments: