Proper ‘1960’ kitchen sink and parlour stuff. Stiff, staid but once warmed up gripping.
A brother and sister and their in-laws, one side down at heel and resentful, the other upwardly mobile and unpleasantly so, get together and find themselves reaching the end of the line. The struggling sister has decided that she’s had enough of looking after their aging father, and (with her mild, ineffectual husband) unsubtly tries to push him onto her brother, to take him back to their shop in Clacton. They however have no inclination for altruism at all, and the tension soon snaps with emotionally disastrous results.
The old man is none too sensible or sensitive (other than to himself) and reacts badly to the perceived slight of the proposal. It’s a very messy emotional situation: none of the characters are flawless or beyond reproach (very much the opposite), we can however sympathise with their positions and the matter at hand. Ruth Dunning was particularly good as the agonised sister, fed up with her lot and needing to play the martyr. The rest of the cast support the play well too, each as a social ‘type’ (unambitious, stuck-up, one-the-make, self-centred etc.).
The first act is slow and rather dull (not helped by the state of the film stock), but once the cards are played, the scenario and the performances (and also the increasingly intense direction) grips, and the saddening climax is rather powerful.