HUE AND CRY, a film by CHARLES CRICHTON, 1947 (Madman DVD)

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HUE AND CRY, a film by CHARLES CRICHTON, 1947 (Madman DVD)

The population in central London in the years after the Second World War was less than half what it is today, around 3.5 million. Even in the early Sixties it wasn't much more . . . which explains why, if you watch an early episode of The Avengers for example there was hardly a car on the roads and eerily few people.

In the Forties -- when there weren't the tourists there are today or in the Swinging Sixties -- the place was still a ruin of bombed buildings, ration cards and streets where the horse and cart was more common than the motor vehicle.

This Ealing "comedy" -- a sort of post-war Famous Five set among the ruins -- will barely raise a laugh today, except at its often groaning pace and telegraphing of who the villains are, but there is something to be said for it as a social document in that you see a London that has long since disappeareed.

The action is played out around markets where men carry baskets piled high on their heads and the cityscape is just rubble and broken bricks. Boys are glad to have any job, and there is still suspicion of Johnny Foreigner.

Outside of that there probably isn't much to recommend it, allthough  Alastair Sim is always a bumbling boggle-eyed delight.

But if you want to see what those streets of London were like when the smell of victory was still in Brritish nostrils here they are. And they are bloody awful. 

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