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Flame in the Streets is a 1961 film directed by Roy Ward Baker[1] and based on the 1958 play Hot Summer Night by Ted Willis. It opened at the Odeon Leicester Square in London's West End on 22 June 1961.

Flame in the Streets
"Flame in the Streets" (1961).jpg
Directed byRoy Ward Baker
(as Roy Baker)
Produced byRoy Ward Baker
(as Roy Baker)
Written byTed Willis
StarringJohn Mills
Sylvia Syms
Brenda De Banzie
Earl Cameron
Johnny Sekka
Music byPhilip Green
CinematographyChristopher Challis
Edited byRoger Cherrill
Distributed byJ. Arthur Rank Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
22 June 1961 (UK)
12 September 1962 (US)
Running time
93 mins
CountryUnited Kingdom


Racial tensions manifest themselves at home, work and on the streets during Bonfire Night in the burgeoning West Indian community of post-war Britain. Trades Union leader Jacko Palmer fights for the rights of a black worker but struggles with the news that his own daughter, Kathie, is planning to marry a West Indian, much against his own logic and the hysterical prejudice of his wife Nell.

Production and ReceptionEdit

Flame in the Streets was produced at Pinewood Studios by the Rank Organisation, with Willis moving the action from the 'hot summer night' of his original play to Guy Fawkes Night; filming began, appropriately, on 5 November 1960. Willis also added two characters, Gabriel Gomez and Harry Mitchell, who are only referred to in the play, and opened out the action to include a nocturnal street brawl in the final reel. Producer-director Roy Ward Baker made the film in CinemaScope, with a cast headed by John Mills, Sylvia Syms, Brenda De Banzie, Earl Cameron and Johnny Sekka.

The new title recalled Willis's earlier play No Trees in the Street, which had itself been filmed two years before. Flame in the Streets opened in London on 22 June 1961, with general release following on 9 July.[2] Daily Herald critic Paul Dehn called it a "terrifying and ferocious film",[3] whereas in The Spectator Isabel Quigley observed "its impact is mild," conceding "the obvious visual comparison between the outward and inward flames and fireworks" was effectively handled.[4] Willis's script was nominated for a 'Best British Screenplay' BAFTA award,[5] as well as being novelised by John Burke for Four Square Books.

In his autobiography (published in 2000), Roy Ward Baker noted the film had recently been shown at a Brixton cinema "to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival in Britain of the steamer Windrush, bringing Caribbeans to work here... Some of the older ones [in the audience] testified that it was a true picture of the conditions the incomers faced and in some areas still do face."[6]



  1. ^
  2. ^ F Maurice Speed, Film Review 1962-1963, Macdonald & Co 1962
  3. ^ Paul Dehn, 'This Terrifying and Ferocious Film', Daily Herald 23 June 1961
  4. ^ Isabel Quigley in The Spectator 30 June 1961
  5. ^
  6. ^ Roy Ward Baker, The Director's Cut, Reynolds & Hearn 2000