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Sing as We Go

From Academic Kids

Bitish musical film (1934) starring Gracie Fields, Stanley Holloway

Script: Gordon Wellesley, J.B. Priestley

Director: Basil Dean

Considered by many to be British music hall star, Gracie Fields, finest vehicle, this film was written for her by leading novelist J.B. Priestley. A morale-boosting depression movie, set in the industrial north of England, Fields stars as a resourceful, spunky working class hero, laid off from her job in a clothing mill, who has to seek work in the seaside resort of Blackpool. This gives her the opportunity both to fall into many misadventures, and of course, to sing.

The decision, rare at the time, to film on location, is a stroke of genius, bringing the film a life and immediacy all too absent from most films of the period. Inadvertently the film provides us with perhaps our finest surviving snapshot of life in a seaside resort in the 1930s. Fields reacts well to the environment and produces one of her best and most spontneous performances. The final scene of the millworkers returning to the re-opened mill while Fields leads them in the rousing title song, has become an almost iconic film cliche.

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