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The Saving of Bill Blewitt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Saving of Bill Blewitt
Bill blewitt savings 1936.png
Still from the film
Directed byHarry Watt
Produced byAlberto Cavalcanti
John Grierson
StarringBill Blewitt
Music byBenjamin Britten
Production
company
Release date
  • 25 January 1936 (1936-01-25)
Running time
26 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

The Saving of Bill Blewitt is a 1936 documentary film produced by Alberto Cavalcanti of the GPO Film Unit[1] and directed by Harry Watt.[2]

Synopsis

Intended as a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Post Office Savings Bank, Watt's film eschewed conventional narration in favour of improvising a story around the villagers of Mousehole and the Cornish landscape they inhabit. The film's power of conviction owed much to the real-life Bill Blewitt, the village postmaster.[3] Others recall him as having "a mesmeric gift of the gab, a glorious Cornish accent, twinkling blue eyes, a grin as broad as 'Popeye' and the charismatic charm of the Celt."[4]

Set during the economic slump of the 1930s, the film follows two fishermen who have lost their boat but manage to save enough to buy another with the help of the Post Office Savings Bank. The inter-village squabbles and references to unemployment reflected the actual hardships of the Cornish fishing villages, whose pilchard industry had been suffered from Britain's refusal to trade with Mussolini's Italy.

The film was shown around the whole of Britain, often at church halls and other meeting rooms and was generally was well received.[5] On its showing in the village of Mousehole itself, the Post Office Magazine reported that the film caused such excitement amongst villagers that much of the dialogue could not be heard above the chatter.[6] At the end of a showing in nearby Penzance Bill Blewitt and his wife, who also appeared, stepped onto the stage to be greeted by deafening cheers and hand clapping.[7]

Cast

Critique

Against this hardship, the film's promotion of saving with the Post Office occupies a rather ambiguous place. The administrators of the post office savings account are unreal and over-earnest comic figures. Their intrusions into what is an otherwise realistic story have a dream-like quality at odds with the film's otherwise gently comic flow.

Influence

Acclaimed by film maker Paul Rotha as the first 'story' documentary, The Saving of Bill Blewitt influenced populist Ealing comedies such as Whisky Galore! and the films of Mike Leigh. The real-life Bill Blewitt went on to appear in several other story-documentaries and wartime propaganda films as The Foreman Went to France and Harry's Watt's Nine Men.

References

  1. ^ Stories of the GPO Film Unit
  2. ^ The Saving of Bill Blewitt at the BFI's Screenonline
  3. ^ Harry Watt's first meeting with Bill Blewitt
  4. ^ Ealing's salt-of-the-earth film star, The Guardian 13 March 2009
  5. ^ "Teaching thrift by means of a scenic film", Aberdeen Press and Journal, 8 June 1937.
  6. ^ "How local film was viewed at Mousehole", Western Morning News, 5 June 1939
  7. ^ "Post Office film at Penzance, The Cornishman and Cornish Telegraph, 14 January 1937.

External links

This page was last edited on 9 June 2021, at 00:17
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