The Angry Silence, a film about Trade Union strikes, pickets and walkouts might sound ridiculously depressing and rather boring to say the least but you would be wrong, well the boring part would be. Yep it has a depressing side to it but like the tagline says, this is Rough, Tough and Deeply Moving and I’ll say that’s the perfect description for this movie. This is high quality British kitchen sink realism, with strong performances across the board. All pushing the gritty nature of this drama through their emotional character developments. With Richard Attenborough and Pier Angeli shining through the gritty, tough and daunting times to come.
Tom Curtis (Richard Attenborough) struggles through with little money but he’s a proud working class man supporting his beautiful Italian wife Anna (Pier Angeli) and their cheeky two children. Tom learns the news that there will soon be an addition to the household when he hears that Anna is expecting again. A little bewildered at the financial burden, he’s soon rallied round to the good news with a flash of a smile from sweet Anna. He’s got a decent job down at the factory, money is coming in and they have some help with the rent from Tom’s close friend Joe Wallace (Michael Craig). Everything is going to be alright isn’t it?
Tagline – “if people can’t be different, if they take that away from you, there’s no point to any of it”
Unfortunately for Tom his steady secure job at the factory is about to go into freefall and Tom’s life is about to spiral out of control with it. With supervisor and elected leader of the workers union Bert Connolly (Bernard Lee) not happy with certain work conditions and demands for fast products times, he gets the lads to agree to an unofficial strike. This comes as a hindrance to factory manager Davis (Geoffrey Keen) who just wants to keep the status quo, and keep the factory running.
Before he knows it the factory production line grinds to a halt and with the thought of no pay for a walk out he doesn’t want to be involved with, he finds out the hard way how quickly friends and fellow coworkers can turn against you. Especially when the word scab starts getting thrown about. Tom is an honest man, a hard working salt of the earth kind of fellow but he’s going to find it tough going through this moral dilemma.
With his friend Joe just happy to go potter on through life without a care in the world, well as long as he can chat to every bit of “skirt” that walks on by. A supervisor who won’t deviate from the rules of striking and an agent provocateur, (Alfred Burke) poking at the furnace, rallying up heated tempers from the side lines. And a gang of gullible juvenile delinquents itching to cause trouble. How is poor Tom going to cope with all this hostile confrontation just so he can provide for his family?
A few observations.
- This film has all the real life tensions of the many fiercely loyal battles which occurred through much of Britain’s trade union walkouts which affected so many families in the mining coal industry. Where close families and friends would heartbreakingly be torn apart by different moral stances. Very sad times indeed.
- There’s a wonderful moment when journalist and television presenter Alan Whicker plays himself interviewing the striking workers and gives them a good little roasting.
- The Angry Silence is directed by Guy Green with screenplay by Bryan Forbes from an original story from Michael Craig and Richard Gregson.
- Spot Oliver Reed playing a character called Mick in one of his first credited bigger roles.
- Both Richard Attenborough and Pier Angeli give superb powerhouse performances in a few personal key scenes showing the emotional turmoil they are going through.
This is a superior drama that motors along just the like the oiled up cogs of the moving factory, each piece slides into places to reveal the true motives of all involved. Well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it but if you have, what did you think?
Keep digging the films. Mikey Wolfman