British director Basil Dearden was known for both great genre pieces like Dead Of Night and The Man Who Haunted Himself (Sir Roger Moore’s favorite performance) and progressive, socially conscious filmmaking like Sapphire and Victim. His 1951 effort Pool Of London, which was shot along the Thames River during England’s post-WWII reconstruction period, was one of his first in that latter mode. Kino Lorber’s reissue of the black and white crime thriller brings this lesser known work back to light, and it is worth checking out.
There are two main stories that interweave throughout Pool Of London. The first involves a white American sailor (Bonnar Colleano) who smuggles small luxury goods between countries. But his latest job is connected to a diamond heist gone band that could land him serious jail time by association. The second narrative features his Jamaican shipmate (Earl Cameron) who unintentionally gets caught up in that mess and who also becomes smitten with a white woman from London and wants to take things further, but he worries about the social stigma of their potential coupling. In fact, this was the first British film to feature an interracial relationship. Including that aspect, I found plenty of things to address in the commentary, including the history of the docks along the Thames at that time, the various locales represented, how many of the cast and crew died tragically young, and the fascinating, decades spanning career of Earl Cameron, who is also interviewed for this reissue and is still going strong at 103 years old! His last major movie was Inception.
The following is review coverage for my audio commentary work on Pool of London. I will add more as other reviews surface. Click on the logo to go to each review site directly.
“Bryan Reesman’s audio commentary fills us in on the complex history of The Pool of London dock area and helps acquaint us with the attractive cast. A number of the actors died much too young, a couple of them violently. Reesman also notes that the team of Basil Dearden and Michael Relph made other socially progressive features. Sapphire is a murder thriller that focuses on race politics and discrimination, while the fearless Victim took up the defense of gays blackmailed under England’s repressive anti-homosexual laws, and reportedly had a positive effect on public opinion.”
“One of the great pleasures of Pool of London is its expert use of London locations—watching it, you feel like you’ve gotten into a time machine and traveled back to the 1950s, where you can get a first-hand view of a London still showing the effects of World War II. The audio commentary by Bryan Reesman mentions details about many of these locations, while a featurette with Richard Dacre takes you to some of the same places as they appear today.”