The late 1950s and 1960s were a strong period for British cinema. This was driven by a new breed of film, sparked by John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger, which loosely fall under the heading kitchen sink realism. Whilst Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, A Taste of Honey and Tony Richardson’s adaptation of Osborne’s play thrive on anger, Guy Green’s The Angry Silence is very much a counterpoint.
Tom (Richard Attenborough) is a popular factory worker who always puts a shift in to ensure that he can support his wife (Pier Angeli) and children. When an unofficial strike is organised by agent provocateur Travers (Alfred Burke) and shop steward Connolly (Bernard Lee), Tom is part of a small group which refuse to go out. Whilst the others crumble Tom sticks to his guns, conscious that he has another child on the way. He’s branded as a scab and ostracised by his workmates, becoming a target for misplaced anger.
Released in 1960, The Angry Silence is a comment on industrial relations in Britain at the time and a cautionary note against the increasingly combative Union movement. It was also a period where working class voices were beginning to be heard in British cinema. Attenborough and producer Bryan Forbes released it through their production company Beaver Films and the latter picked up an Oscar nomination for his troubles. The Angry Silence champions the voice of the individual and is one of British cinema’s lesser-known gems.
The Angry Silence is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Studiocanal on Monday.