<ul><li>1930s – British documentary movement led by filmmaker John Grierson and others showed men and women working a various jobs. One key film was Edgar Anstey’s and Arthur Eton’s Housing Problems (1935) (produced by John Grierson) – notable for its use of direct sound putting the voices of working class people on the screen. </li></ul>
<ul><li>While there are exceptions, in narrative cinema (notably Love on the Dole made in 1941 and set in Salford), working class representation was often marginalised or reduced to supporting roles and rarely dealt with social and political controversy. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
<ul><li>Kitchen sink realism (or kitchen sink drama ) is a term coined to describe a British cultural movement which developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s in theatre, art, novels, film and television, whose male 'heroes' usually could be described as angry young men. It used a style of social; realism which often depicted the domestic situations of working class Britons living in rented accommodation – often in provincial towns and cities as opposed to London - and spending their off-hours in grimy pubs to explore social issues and political controversies. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger (1956) was set in a cramped one bedroom flat in the Midlands and explored the social alienation and claustrophobia of the life of a manual worker on a low income. Critic John Heilpern wrote that Look Back in Anger expressed such "immensity of feeling and class hatred" that it altered the course of English theatre. The play was premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre on 8 May 1956 by the English Stage Company under the direction of Tony Richardson. The press release called the author an ‘angry young man’, a phrase which came to represent a new movement in 1950s British theatre. Legend has it that audiences gasped at the sight of an ironing board on a London stage!
Now it’s thought of as key play in the development of British theatre but at the time,not everyone loved it. On BBC Radio's The Critics , Ivor Brown began his review by describing the play's setting—a one-room flat in the Midlands—as 'unspeakably dirty and squalid. It is difficult to believe that a colonel's daughter, brought up with some standards, would have stayed in this sty for a day'.
On the other hand, Kenneth Tynan wrote, "I could not love anyone who did not wish to see Look Back in Anger ." Tynan described the play as "a minor miracle": "All the qualities are there, qualities one had despaired of ever seeing on the stage—the drift towards anarchy, the instinctive leftishness, the automatic rejection of 'official' attitudes, the surrealist sense of humour (Jimmy describes an effeminate male friend as 'a female Emily Brontë'), the casual promiscuity, the sense of lacking a crusade worth fighting for and, underlying all these, the determination that no one who dies shall go unmourned." Alan Sillitoe, author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner , wrote that Osborne "didn't contribute to British theatre, he set off a landmine and blew most of it up."
<ul><li>Its success inspired other playwrights and led to film versions of works like Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), set in Nottingham (directed by Karel Reisz); John Barstow’s A Kind of Loving (1962) set in Lancashire (directed by John Schelsinger); and Shelagh Delaney’s A Taste of Honey (1961) set in Manchester (directed by Tony Richardson) and featuring a female protagonist in a genre usually criticised for being male-centric. </li></ul>
<ul><li>A Kind of Loving: Victor 'Vic' Brown (Bates) is a draftsman in a Lancashire factory who sleeps with a typist called Ingrid Rothwell (Ritchie) who also works there. She falls for him but he is less enamoured of her. He then learns she is pregnant so he proposes marriage and the couple move in with her domineering mother Mrs Rothwell (Thora Hird), who looks down on Vic. Ingrid has a miscarriage, Vic has regrets and comes home drunk. The couple then consider the possibility of making do with a 'kind of loving.’ </li></ul>
<ul><li>A Taste of Honey: a Mancunian teenager becomes pregnant by a black sailor. She leaves her feckless mother and her flashy new boyfriend to set up her own home. She moves in with a young gay man, who helps look after her as she faces an uncertain future. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Look Back in Anger (film version, 1959; directed by Tony Richardson): a love triangle involving an intelligent but disaffected young man (Jimmy Porter), his upper-middle-class, impassive wife (Alison), and her snooty best friend (Helena Charles). Cliff, an amiable Welsh lodger, attempts to keep the peace. The character of Ma Tanner, only referred to in the original play, is here a dramatic device to emphasise the class difference between Jimmy and Alison. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: Arthur Seaton, a young machinist at a Nottingham factory, is having an affair with Brenda, the wife of an older co-worker. He also has a relationship with Doreen, a woman closer to his own age. When Brenda gets pregnant, Arthur asks his aunt for advice on aborting the child. Brenda's husband discovers the affair, and his brother (a burly soldier) and a fellow soldier give Arthur a vicious beating. After recovering, Arthur returns to work, and the film ends on an ambiguous note, with Arthur and Doreen discussing marriage and the prospect of a new home. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
<ul><li>Billy Liar (1963; diected by John Schelsinger): based on the novel by Keith Waterhouse. It stars Tom Courtenay (who had understudied Albert Finney in the West End theatre adaptation of the novel) as Billy and Julie Christie as Liz, one of his three girlfriends. Mona Washbourne plays Mrs Fisher, and Wilfred Pickles played Mr Fisher. Rodney Bewes, Finlay Currie and Leonard Rossiter also feature. Billy is an undertaker's clerk with an overactive fantasy life, to compensate for his dull provincial life. He has three girlfriends, his favourite of which tries to persuade him to go to London with her and start a new life. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Characteristic of the style is a documentary or cinéma vérité feel and the use of real locations (in this case the city of Bradford in Yorkshire). One sequence includes a very early use of a swear word ("pissed"), which was unusual by commercial film standards of the time. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
<ul><li>Another influence on these films was French New Wave cinema, particular the documentary/cinema verité feel of movies like Francois Truffaut’s 400 Blows. </li></ul>
You can also see the influence of American films of the late 1940s and 1950s, particularly film noir and other crime films shot on location to capture a documentary feel – like Jules Dassin’s The Naked City (1948).
<ul><li>Television followed with ITV’s Armchair Theatre (1956-68) and the BBC’s The Wednesday Play (1964-1970), which featured plays dealing with social issues. Perhaps the most famous example from the latter series was the Ken Loach directed Cathy Come Home. The influence was also felt on drama serials like Z Cars, sit-coms like Steptoe and Son (both from the BBC) and soaps like Granada’s Coronation Street (1960-present). </li></ul>