It Always Rains on Sunday

“Almost the definitive British postwar film” is how historian William K. Everson described this Ealing Studios noir, shot through with a despairing realism that prefigures the next decade's kitchen-sink tendencies. It's another rainy Sunday in London's East End, its row houses, street markets, and narrow rooms populated by tea sippers and thugs, wide boys and spivs, temperance groups and coppers. Luckless cons work to offload the fruits of a botched raid (roller skates), a band leader aims his lechery towards a naïve young beauty, and, in one particularly cramped home, a fugitive hides in the upstairs bedroom, protected by a housewife who was once his lover. All dreams are dead ends; all trains return to the East End. Director Robert Hamer (Kind Hearts and Coronets; Dead of Night) ably juggles multiple story lines and flashbacks, while a final chase scene through the steam and shadows of a London rail yard adds an Anthony Mann-like noir flourish to its poetic fatalism. Bertrand Tavernier called it “a masterpiece . . . a brilliantly written choral work.”

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