Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Review: The Stars Look Down

I got around to watching one of the films on my PVR today. It was The Stars Look Down, a 1940 black and white, directed by Carol Reed (who later made The Third Man) and based on the A.J. Cronin novel. It’s a ‘down t’pit’ coal mining town film, well-acted by Michael Redgrave, Margaret Lockwood, Emlyn Williams (him especially) and others, and mostly well-made – though the cinematographer seemed to have slipped his f-stops a couple of times when scenes were almost whited out. There’s an exciting mine cave-in scene near the end. But the best bit is Redgrave’s character Davey Fenwick giving a fiery polemic against the privatisation of coal mines and other industries that use natural resources. It should be mandatory viewing for all mine owners; though I suspect Gina Rinehart and her ilk would completely miss the point. Reed includes a montage of honest work being done at the coalmine overlaying the speech. A nice stylistic touch. Otherwise, the politics are a bit soft. The film opens with the mine workers holding a wildcat strike against the Union’s orders, but we’re never given any insight into the union’s activities, or its objections. Later, the greedy duplicitous mine owner is shown heroically helping the miners during the cave-in. But it’s too little too late. Presumably, the stars look down…and weep.