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Pool of London (1951)


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I've been wanting to see this for a while.  I finally got a chance to view it after I was turned on to Filmstruck, the streaming service offered by TCM.  There is only ONE thing wrong with this film: You CAN'T get a region 1 copy of it on Blu Ray or DVD anywhere as far as I know.  I knew this was gonna be good but didn't know it was THIS good.  If it hasn't already it should be in the British equivalent of the national registry because of the priceless on location filming.  The plot is simple. It surrounds two crew members of the merchant ship Dunbar,  Dan Mcdonald ( Bonar Colleano) and Johnny Lambert ( Earl Cameron).  Bonar loves to get into stuff and loves to smuggle stuff on and off the ship. Johnny is more laid back.  Trouble starts when Bonar starts bragging and gets himself caught up with a gang of jewel thieves.  I'm gonna leave it there. The plot is fantastic.

The location shooting and action in this film is priceless. Its almost none stop with the amount of scenery in this film that you get involved in.  You are sitting there in amazement at one particular location, then you are rushed off into another.  The main star of course is the Pool of London itself, a location right around the London Bridge. Here is a link that explains what the Pool of London is:  http://hidden-london.com/gazetteer/pool-of-london/

I personally cannot convey how beautiful this on location shooting is.  This review right here which goes into director Basil Dearden's career, really digs into the on location filming of this great film. Here is a excerpt:

The photography, by the brilliant but little-celebrated Gordon Dines, sketches Dearden’s evocation of time and place in hues of hard blacks and whites and smoky greys, turning the brick and ironwork of the city’s famous landmarks into a landscape replete with vertiginous highs and lows and boles of inky blackness. His palette is perfect for recording Dearden’s attempt to anatomise London, a city stranded between its industrial and commercial height and its renewal, still bearing the scars of war and littered with the ruins of the Blitz and the oncoming wane of an industrial and commercial age. The façades of the old and upright business and institutional buildings showing their implacable bars and brickwork to the street like an urban Stonehenge. The soaring geometric splendours of St Paul’s and the Greenwich Observatory, which Johnny visits with Pat in ticking off tourist sights, offer the grandeur of a great stage of civilisation that nonetheless enacts its true passions and appetites down on the dirty street. Those unfold in its smoky, gritty pubs and seamy music halls and dank tenements, the faint air of desperation collecting like dampness on the grubby walls or the film of perspiration seen daubing many a brow, from Vernon after a performance to Dan as he realises he’s plunged himself into a cruel trap. Only occasionally does something as transfixing, even transporting, as Pat’s face suddenly gleams out amongst the morass.


Another major point of the film is the fact that its the first British film featuring a interracial romance.  This fact kept it from being distributed in the United States. Earl Cameron gives a splendid performance in his first ever film role.  He talks about the importance of it in this interview a few years ago:


Bonar Colleano himself did a fantastic job as Dan.  His character is very contagious and you quickly get the sense that he is a power player who is confident in his own skin and will not take crap off anyone who treats anyone the wrong way.  Its a great performance.  

Overall, I was more than pleased with this film.  It took me a while but I finally got to screen it. Now its time to find a Blu Ray or DVD.  Criterion needs to get on the restoration. Forget the IMDB ratings,   I rate this one a SOLID 9 out of 10. 















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