To christen (or whatever atheists do) the new dvd player, my sister borrowed some dvds from the British Council.
So we ended up watching "A Taste Of Honey", with Dora Bryan and Rita Tushingham. It is a film adapted in 1961 from a stage play which began in 1957. I remember seeing it on television at my friend's house when I was a teenager. I think her mother must have been out otherwise I can't imagine how we could have been allowed to watch this film. It was clearly one of the first "kitchen sink dramas" of the 60s and predated Coronation St, (which must be one of the last).
In it, a teenage girl shown in school uniform lives with her floozy mother and survives a moonlight flit to a new part of town. There the mother meets a younger man. When they want to go to Blackpool for a day out they have to take the daughter with them. As a typical teenager, she behaves as badly as she can so that eventually the boyfriend asks the mother to choose between them. The daughter gets some money and is told to go home on her own.
Soon the mother gets married again and moves in with the husband, leaving her daughter, without any means of support. She has to get a job and find her own accommodation. Somehow she does this, and manages also to get pregnant by her sailor boyfriend who of course sails off with his ship. Her job is selling shoes in a shop and she manages to sell shoes to a young gay man who follows her home. She then invites him to share her attic, as it turns out he has been kicked out of his lodgings for being gay. They live happily platonically together, with the gay guy looking forward to the baby coming (rather more than the girl) and he cooks and keeps house for her.
However, the mother turns up again (she has been kicked out by the new husband) and she ruins everything by in turn kicking out the gay guy, despite the girl's wishes.
The whole film is shot in black and white in Salford, Manchester with the background of dereliction and the Manchester Ship Canal. Some of the shots are recollections of Eisenstein with hero figures shot against the sky or industrial landscapes in good social realist tradition.
It's interesting that the girl seems to know more about gay guys than she does about how you get pregnant. I found that surprising, given my own knowledge at that age. I don't remember anything at all about a gay guy, so perhaps I was too innocent.
After decades of Coronation St and East Enders, it's hard to remember that plays and films rarely portrayed anything about ordinary life, (or if you prefer, working class life). Not that the average working class life had pregnant teenagers or gay men, any more than it does now.
Certainly, the film was shocking in the way that the school girl was left to her own devices by her mother. But I guess, at that time, working class girls were considered more or less grown up at 16 and expected to get unskilled jobs and/or get married early and have babies.
And the question is, has anything changed? Bee complains about the lack of career advice at school, and/or ambitions in some of her classmates.