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United Kingdom 1950
Directed by
Basil Dearden
84 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Blue Lamp

Coming from the prolific Ealing Studios team of director Basil Dearden and Michael Relph, the latter acting as producer, script collaborator and sometimes production designer. like Noel Coward and David Leans’ This Happy Breed (1944), The Blue Lamp is one of the classic portraits of post-Edwardian working class England. 

South London's most famous bobby, P.C George 'put-the-kettle-on-mum' Dixon (Jack Warner) exemplifies geranium--growing working-class acquiesence as he takes eager rookie PC Andy Mitchell (Jimmy Hanley), a surrogate for his deceased son, presumably killed in the war, under his wing and shows him what a real bobby is made of.

At the other extreme is Dirk Bogarde, in an early role, as a street punk and petty criminal with a bad attitude (Dearden would again direct the actor, this time in the lead, in a very different film, Victim, 1961). It is, like The Wild One (1953), couched in the form of a social conscience tract but the difference here is that Dearden’s film is a highly sentimentalized paean to the dominant order and youth insofar as it rebels against it is simply branded as criminal. It’s squirm-worthy stuff in its unabashed propagandizing, clearly a legacy of the extensive output of such material during the war years but as social history, it's quite a treat.

FYI: English music hall star Tessie O'Shea appears as herself.




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