"Hamer showcases his early directorial talent in abundance, most notably in two of the film’s key scenes"
Getting a re-release on DVD in its restored format (and on High-Def Blu-Ray) for the first time is Robert Hamer’s 1945 Ealing comedy Pink String and Sealing Wax.
Hamer is perhaps best known for directing arguably the greatest Ealing comedy (and one of the greatest ever comedies) with Kind Hearts and Coronet, but this represents his first completed feature film.
Set in Victorian Brighton, the story follows young sap David (Gordon Jackson) who, eager to escape his overbearing father Edward (Mervyn Johns), gets involved with put-upon landlady Pearl (Googie Withers) who uses him and his position as a chemist to do away with her husband.
Thus begins a macabre tale of blackmail and betrayal, serving as a stark reminder of the very dark elements of Ealing comedies that would be so key to the likes of Kind Hearts and The Ladykillers.
Yet despite being one of the earlier films from Ealing, this is somewhat ahead of its time with its observations on sexual politics and feminism, and while Britain was just escaping the Second World War, this makes sly observations on the end to the patriarchal world of Victorian England.
Hamer largely handles the labyrinth plot well even if certain elements don’t tie in to the overarching story particularly with David’s sisters own struggles with their father feeding more into the themes of the film than the narrative.
Hamer showcases his early directorial talent in abundance, most notably in two of the film’s key scenes in which he keeps the camera on Withers leaving the actual action off-screen and portraying it solely through her reactions. It’s great filmmaking and great acting to boot.
And with the crisp restoration, this re-release should help the film find a new audience, many of whom may not have even heard of it before. While it perhaps doesn’t belong next to the Ealing greats, it’s nonetheless a reminder of how great British films once were.