A Place to Go

A Place to Go is a 1963 British crime drama film directed by Basil Dearden and starring Bernard Lee, Rita Tushingham and Michael Sarne. Set in contemporary Bethnal Green in the East End of London, it charted the dramatic changes that were then happening in the lives of the British working class, fitting into the kitchen sink school of film-making which was popular in Britain at the time. The film was based on the 1961 novel Bethnal Green by Michael Fisher.

A Place to Go
A Place to Go VideoCover.jpg
Directed byBasil Dearden
Produced byMichael Relph
Written byClive Exton
Michael Fisher
Michael Relph
StarringBernard Lee
Rita Tushingham
Michael Sarne
Music byCharles Blackwell
CinematographyReginald H. Wyer
Edited byJohn D. Guthridge
Distributed byBryanston Films (UK)
Release date
  • July 1963 (1963-07) (UK)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget£155,000[1]

PlotEdit

Ricky Flint (Michael Sarne) dreams of escaping working-class Bethnal Green, where he works in a cigarette factory and shares a crowded terraced house with his middle-aged parents Matt (Bernard Lee) and Lil, his pregnant sister Betsy (who soon gives birth), and her husband Jim. In order to get the money to leave, Ricky agrees to help local gangster Jack Ellerman rob the cigarette factory, and also gets Jim, a lorry driver hoping to buy an expensive transport licence, to join the plot. Ricky finds himself attracted to Catherine "Cat" Donovan (Rita Tushingham), who has been dating another member of Jack's gang, Charlie Batey. Although Cat agrees to date and even make love with Ricky, she is fiercely independent and refuses to take orders from him or stop seeing Charlie, pointing out that she and Ricky are not engaged so she is free to do as she likes.

Ricky's father Matt, a dockworker, also wants to leave his insecure job and strike out on his own, and eventually quits and becomes a busker with a Houdini-like escape routine. Matt hates Jack Ellerman, who has been more financially successful than himself and was also his rival for Lil's affections many years ago. When Matt finds Jack and his gang at the Flints' house meeting with Ricky and Jim, Matt's anger on top of the stress of busking causes Matt to suffer a fatal stroke.

On the night of the planned robbery, Jim decides at the last minute that he cannot go through with it and risk his family's future. Ricky takes Jim's lorry without his knowledge and fills in for Jim, as well as doing his own part of disabling the factory alarm. However, when Jack orders Ricky to stand guard with a lead pipe, Ricky finds himself unable to hit a police officer who approaches and disrupts the robbery, thus leaving it to Charlie to knock out the officer. Charlie later takes revenge on Ricky by setting fire to Jim's lorry. Ricky is badly burned attempting to put out the fire and recovers in hospital, during which time Cat visits him but also continues seeing Charlie. Meanwhile, slum clearance forces Lil to reluctantly move out of her home of 30 years into a new flat in another area. Jim and Betsy use the insurance money from the burned lorry to move into a house of their own, which Betsy had wanted, but she finds it somewhat lonely. Jim gives up his dream of being a transport driver for a steady job in a local factory.

After Ricky is released from hospital, he finds Cat with Charlie at the local pub and attacks Charlie. The police arrive and arrest both men. In court, Ricky testifies that he and Cat are engaged and he was angry because she was seeing Charlie while he was in hospital. When Cat corroborates Ricky's testimony, the judge is lenient and lets Ricky off with a fine. Ricky and Cat then decide to make their engagement a reality.

Differences between the book and the filmEdit

In the book, Charlie's character is called Spider and Matt's busking act is fire breathing not escapology. When Jim changes his mind about the robbery, Jack postpones it, and they set fire to the van that night in revenge. Ricky and Jim go to confront Jack and his gang, but Ricky has a change of heart, leaving Jim to be badly beaten. Ricky flees the scene upset and, longing for his father, he tries to simulate Matt's fire-breathing act and that is how he burns his face. The botched robbery goes ahead after Ricky leaves hospital and the next day, racked with guilt, Ricky and Cat go to apologise to Jack and to tell him that they don't want to be involved in the gang any more. Jack threatens to have Ricky beaten up if he refuses to stay in the gang, but Ricky chooses to take the beating. Afterwards Jack confides that he felt like Ricky was a son to him, heavily hinting that he is actually his real father. Ricky and Cat escape down the canal on a small boat and plan their future life together.

CastEdit

LocationsEdit

The greyhound racing scenes in the film were set at Clapton Stadium.[2]

Pub scenes were filmed at The Acorn in Bethnal Green (demolished in 2019) [3] and an exterior shot of The Angel in City Road, Islington.

The rest of the outdoor shots were filmed on location in Bethnal Green.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Petrie, Duncan James (2017). "Bryanston Films: An Experiment in Cooperative Independent Production and Distribution" (PDF). Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television: 7. ISSN 1465-3451.
  2. ^ Genders, Roy (1990). NGRC book of Greyhound Racing. Pelham Books Ltd. ISBN 0-7207-1804-X.
  3. ^ Closed Pubs website

External linksEdit