A gripping and beautifully shot 1951 film noir from Ealing Studios, Pool of London follows two merchant seamen on shore leave who get sucked into a world of petty crime which quickly escalates out of their control. Its principal claim to fame these days is that it features an inter-racial love story – the superb Earl Cameron plays one of the sailors – but it deserves to be much more widely known purely on its merits.
Very few films give as vivid a sense of London as a living city as this one – particularly in this period. That is in part due to the tightness of the plotting and the believability of the characters (with perhaps the odd exception), as well as the decision to shoot so much of the film on location. But the cinematography surely plays a large part too. The camerawork by Ealing stalwart Gordon Dines is stunning, making full use of the evocative locations, many of which have since been redeveloped out of existence. This is particularly true of the areas around Poplar, which are used extensively, but there are numerous scenes shot in and around Bermondsey, Woolwich, the City and elsewhere, as well as the eponymous Pool of London.
The film also features the young Alfie Bass, and both Leslie Phillips and James Robertson Justice in rare non-comedic roles.
Pool of London is available from Amazon and elsewhere on DVD.
The other films I have written about under the Forgotten London Film series are: Night and the City, No Trees in the Street, The Boy and the Bridge, London Belongs to Me, Waterloo Road, Run for your Money, The Happy Family, St Martin’s Lane, and Underground.
My brief introduction to the series is here.