Sunday, 5 May 2013

No.188 : Waterloo Road

Waterloo Road at the IMDb
No, it’s not the BBC yoof soap, what we have here is the black and white 1945 war time kitchen sink drama.

It’s the time of the Blitz and local doctor Alistair Sim has a part time job book ending the film with his wise words and inner monologue. He buys a toy train for a young child and his mind wanders off as we drift into the film proper.

An East end family is making do with the lodger trying to get his breakfast as the family all squabble. The pretty but dim daughter is under fire as she’s walking out with local spiv Stewart Granger, despite being married to John Mills who’s off fighting the war. A busybody sister writes to Mills telling him about the slattern’s antics and soon the squaddie is AWOL and seeking to sort things out.

Mills has several adventures as he has to evade the military police and fate intervenes as she slips out of his hands on several occasions as she sees the town in the company of the spiv. Mills also enlists the help of a fellow deserter and uses his wiles and fighting skills to evade capture.

Eventually as the bombs start to fall the spiv gets the girl in his lair as Mills is tipped off by the doctor as to their whereabouts. Can he stop his girl giving up the goods to the douche layabout and will the toy train recipient be a surprise to anyone?

I really liked this brief slice of 1940’s life. There was certainly no attempt to glamorise our brave boys fighting the war as most we met were on the run or up to some illegal antics. I’m sure this was a tonic to the home front as the stiff upper lip was replaced by a cockney sparrow who was as quick with his fists as he was with his wits.

There were plenty of laughs and I liked the scene where the MPs raid the dance hall looking for deserters. Our hero heads for the toilet only to find a queue waiting to escape out of the window! The action all takes over the place of a day and you can’t say much was invested in the plot which was basically an hour of a manhunt before a ten minute punch up where the baddie gets his just desserts. The characters are great however with Stewart Granger doing well in the thankless role of the gadabout trying to deflower the lonely wife. John Mills is fine as the small but wiry squaddie and there are plenty of great characters showing up to raise a smile.

I was less impressed with the prick tease wife who seemed a bit wet to be getting all the frenetic attention she enjoyed. At the end things all got sorted out neatly and although the blitz scenes were mainly stock footage it didn’t detract from a good knockabout drama that had more laughs than most comedies.

Best Bit : Punch Up!
W Score 18/23

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