‘It Always Rains on Sunday’ – the Brit noir landmark free on Kanopy

Working class realism meets British crime drama in It Always Rains on Sunday (1947), Robert Hamer’s landmark classic.

Rose Sandigate (Googie Withers) has resigned herself to a marriage with an older widower (Edward Chapman) with two grown daughters and a schoolboy son when her past comes crashing in. Escaped convict Tommy Swann (John McCallum), once her lover, hides out in her cramped home while the cops prowl the London East End neighborhood. As Rose scurries about keeping Tommy hidden, her stepdaughters Doris (Patricia Plunkett), the respectable brunette in a steady romance with a working lad, and Vi (Susan Shaw), the dreamer, cross paths with a married bandleader and his shady arcade owner brother.

The atmosphere of this landmark British drama is right in the title. Set over the course of a dreary day in the Bethnel Green neighborhood, Robert Hamer’s Brit noir is steeped in the malaise of post-World War II England mired in recession and food rationing, a sharp contrast to the post-war economic boom across the Atlantic in the U.S. It’s shot in part on location in London’s East End and even gives viewers a brief peak into London’s Jewish community

Hamer centers it all on Rose and constrains her in the small, often overcrowded rooms of her cramped home, which seem to close in on her as suppressed passions are reignited by Tommy’s reappearance. The world outside, however, is bustling, from the crowds swarming the market streets to thieves and entrepreneurs trying to hustle up a few pounds. For a film of dashed dreams and disappointments, there’s nervous energy throughout.

Produced by Ealing, the British studio behind some of the greatest comedies of the 1950s, this landmark was beautifully photographed by Douglas Slocombe, the great British cinematographer who went on to shoot Raiders of the Lost Ark and earn three Oscar nominations and win three BAFTAs over his long career.

Black and white

Also on Blu-ray and DVD and on SVOD through Amazon Video, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vudu and/or other services. Availability may vary by service.
It Always Rains on Sunday [Blu-ray]
It Always Rains on Sunday [DVD]

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The Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber is mastered from a BFI restoration and features a superb commentary track by film historian Imogen Sara Smith and two featurettes.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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