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Painted Boats [DVD]

4.8 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Jenny Laird, Bill Blewett, Robert Griffith, May Hallatt
  • Directors: Charles Crichton
  • Producers: Michael Balcon
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 11 Jan. 2010
  • Run Time: 57 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TJKW5O
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,464 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

For generations the Stoner and Smith families have lived and worked on the canals. But now this idyllic way of life is threatened - the younger generation long to break away and discover life outside the barges. Ted Stoner (Robert Griffith) dreams of living in a big town but his girlfriend, Mary Smith (Jenny Laird), is more of a traditionalist - will their very different dreams tear them apart?

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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In many ways this is a strange film. Part documentary, part light romance, part propaganda. It is also quite possibly the most beautiful depiction of English canals on film you will ever see.

Filmed in 1945, with Britain still at war, it is ostensibly the story of the lives of two families who work and live on cargo-carrying canal boats. The young woman on one of the boats is attracted to the young man working the other boat. We follow their romance. We also follow many aspects of life on the boats, which then had barely changed since the canals were built. The boats are shown with their tiny living spaces, their traditional flower and castle decorations, moving gracefully along the cut at barely walking pace; one of the boats is still horse drawn, the other motorised. But also shown is the realism of the sheer hard graft of working the boats. For example, there is a fascinating depiction of a boat being 'walked' through a long canal tunnel; the horse being taken across the hill over the tunnel whilst the remaining crew lie on boards across the boat and propel it by literally walking along the tunnel walls. From time to time there are shots of the industry the canals were supplying; the characteristic bottle kilns of the Potteries; a huge steelworks with the canal passing right through the middle (Shelton Bar?); the famous Anderton Boat Lift connecting the Trent and Mersey canal down to the River Weaver.

There is a strong documentary feel in places; from time to time a narrator comments on what we are seeing, and there is even a short section where we are given in effect an illustrated history lesson. And there is very much the feel of everyone pulling together, all classes, men and women, for the war effort.
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This film is an important capture of the last years of the canal system when it was working to help the nation recover from the wartime deprivation.All students of canal history should watch this.
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This film was, ooh not a modern word I know, enchanting! While there is a drama plot and actors, it was filmed with the real riverboat community themselves. A lot of archive film is spliced in and I was initially bemused, 'is this a documentary or ...'
but quite quickly I was lost in the historical archive clips of places and crafts and skills long gone and disappeared - a whole culture lost to us, one of many.

So unaffected and simply made and one can learn an awful lot about the daily grind of the Painted Boat communities and the harsh lives they lived, even for the time. It is apparent from the sentiments of the Painted Boat community and the plot of the simple drama, that the harshness was a price worth their freedom.

A wonderful social record of the voices and the world of a lost part of our heritage. It is as I said, enchanting.
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I came across this on Amazon after choosing "The Bargee", and it looked interesting. Hard to decide whether it should be classified as a documentary or a feature film, but like The Bargee it provides a snapshot record of the British canal system, this time at the end of WW2. Just two minor niggles - first it was only just over an hour long (I would loved it to be longer), and second,, in spite of the "Painted" in the title it was in black and white. I blame the war!
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This Ealing Studios docudrama lasts only one hour but packs a big punch, telling the story of life on the British canals in the 1940s, with so much heart and verve that it leaves you stunned. The direction is brilliant and its little-known star, Jenny Laird, gives a strong and involving performance, as the canal girl, torn between staying on the canals transporting essential goods around the country, or giving it all up to live on the land when WWII breaks out. The engaging Laird usually had only small, supporting roles, which, to my mind, was a big waste of talent, but three cheers for Charles Chrichton's good sense in giving her the lead in this one. A young Harry Fowler is also very good, as the boy on the boat owned by another family, who take a less romantic view of life on the waterways, and would be happy to give up the daily grind and back-breaking labour in return for a house on dry land. Then, of course, we have the painted boats themselves, some horse drawn, others motorised, but all wonderful to see as they chug along the waterways from the Potteries of Stoke to the Docklands of London. We also get a potted history of the canals, going back to the 1700s, a wonderful narrator, who gives us poetry in the style of the Night Mail, with pastoral music emphasising the romantic aspects of the outdoor life, and a less idyllic theme for the harsh winters. In summary, if you like visual histories of Britain in times gone by and/or are a waterways enthusiast, you will love this film.
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An odd mixture of documentary and drama. It works well as a social documentary of the life and times it portrays but I was left a little sad at the end as I felt I wanted more of the people. Interesting, though, as a record of the times.
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This film fascinates.

It's a priceless and compassionate record of a vanished way of life, and to anyone remotely interested in social history and the history of Britain's rural and industrial landscape, it must rank pretty high in the list of must-haves.

There's a story, to make the thing hang together, but it's not really necessary as the gentle rhythm of canal life has its own narrative.

Director Charles Crichton, so famous for comedies such as 'The Lavender Hill Mob' - and latterly 'A Fish Called Wanda' - has done his subject proud.

Douglas Slocombe's beautiful photography (and yes, black and white is every bit as beautiful as colour in the right hands) creates some stunning images of water, bridge, factory and lock gate, and the whole thing has a quiet but determined pace towards an ending that comes all too soon.

Recommended - very highly - as a testament to Englishness and an industry now all but lost. If there is one minor quibble it's that the film is very short. A double bill on the dvd might have been nice to make it better value. There are enough excellent period documentaries to choose from.
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