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Excellent window onto a lost world!
on 24 January 2013
In the entire canon of Ealing Studios, "Dance Hall" is unjustly overlooked. This is a great shame and hopefully this excellent new DVD release will go some way towards deservedly building its reputation. I imagine in it's day it was "just another film" and slipped by almost unnoticed given it's lack of big star names.
It's an uncomplicated tale of a group of female friends whose social life revolves around the local Palais de Danse, the story focuses on Eve, well played by Natasha Parry and her troubled relationships with the two men in her life - her true love, Donald Houston, who finds it hard to contain his jealousy of Bonar Colleano, her main dance partner.
All the protagonists are excellent, Diana Dors is at her most flighty and attractive, well supported by Jane Hylton and Petula Clark. The cast is full of familiar faces, if you blink though you'll miss Kay Kendall's five seconds appearance! Harry Fowler, uncredited, appears very briefly at the very end of the film.
The photography is very good, full of excellent camera angles, and in this pristine print it looks magnificent.It's taken a long wait for this film to appear on DVD, one of the few Ealing films not previously available, but it's been worth it. Like all this kind of film it's also now a fantastic piece of social history showing a way of life among working people that has now disappeared completely. It's very interesting to see (and hear) Ted Heath's and Geraldo's orchestras, and there is a very pretty ballad, "You're only dreaming", sung by Hy Hazell, which reflects the dreams and aspirations of the girls whose lives centre around the Palais. Local colour is excellent, as to be expected, there is a wonderful shot of Natasha Parry running through the dark streets as a trolleybus disappears into the night behind her!
I thoroughly enjoyed it and I recommend it without hesitation.