Trouble at Mill
To my knowledge there have been 5 versions of "Hindle Wakes" made and this 1952 version is the fourth. Now that says something about Stanley Houghton's play that directors have seen something in it worthy of 5 adaptations and to be honest it is an entertaining story which focuses on moral standards of a bygone era. But whilst this 1952 version of "Hindle Wakes" entertains it is by no means perfect and a bit of a curiosity when you have a worker in a mill speaking in the same posh accent as someone of wealth, it just doesn't ring true even if it doesn't spoil the entertainment.
Jenny Hawthorn (Lisa Daniely) and her best friend Mary (Sandra Dorne) both work at the Jeffcote mill in Hindle, the same mill that her father works and whose friend Mr. Jeffcote (Ronald Adam) owns and his son Alan (Brian Worth) also works. With the mill closed for the holidays Jenny and Mary head off to Blackpool like many of the young workers such as the handsome Bob (Bill Travers - Ring of Bright Water) who has a thing for Jenny but Jenny doesn't want to end up living the life her parents did and dreams of meeting a man with money, someone like Alan. So when in Blackpool Jenny and Mary bump into Alan and his friend she ends up being whisked off her feet by the young lothario and agrees to head to Llandudno with him for a week with Mary covering for her. That is until Mary is killed in a boating incident and the truth comes out as Jenny and Alan's parents learn of their illicit week together and insist they do the right thing and marry despite Alan being engaged to another woman.
I suppose the entertainment and interest of "Hindle Wakes" is really one of history, the social attitudes and the snapshot of life it portrays rather than the story. In fact if you watched "Hindle Wakes" because of the story you might end up a little disappointed because whilst we have some romance and a single moment of drama involving Mary there isn't a lot going on.
But as I said it is that snapshot of how things were which makes it both interesting and charming, from the whole Hindle community working at the mill to the look at the morals of the time when it came to a young man and woman spending a holiday together. You can see the double standards where for a man it is not such an issue and they are seen as a bit of a scoundrel but for a young woman it meant marriage and being bossed around by her parents. But it is not just that because you also see a snapshot of life in Blackpool and it is fascinating to watch all these young people packed on to the dance floor at the Winter Gardens with so little room to dance that they move like a herd of an animals rubbing next to each other. I could go on because 60 years after "Hindle Wakes" was made it is simply fascinating to see how things were and how people were expected to behave.
Now Lisa Daniely as Jenny is very attractive and plays her part very well especially during the second half when her parents are trying to force her into marriage but not only does she sound too posh with her perfect English accent but she also dresses too perfectly. It is the one major issue which "Hindle Wakes" has as there are aspects of it which are not authentic which admittedly don't ruin the movie but are very obvious. The flaws often come from characters but then the likes of Brian Worth, Leslie Dwyer and Bill Travers all play their parts well and you enjoy their performances whilst ignoring the issues.
What this all boils down to is that the 1952 version of "Hindle Wakes" is one of those movies which is now interesting for its portrayal of a bygone era from the way people acted and looked to the social and moral aspect. It isn't a great movie but one which has this sort of charm about it which hooks you quickly and keeps you watching till the end.