Momma Don’t Allow (Reisz/Richardson, 1956)

UK, 22 min


dance, teddy boy, dance…
don’t worry; that duck’s ass
at the back of your head
looks mighty fine


well, obviously i’ve been on  a free cinema kick for the last few days. i recommend all these films as great context to anyone interested in brit cinema, especially fans of the british new wave and/or the “angry young man” and kitchen sink realism dramas from that period.

this entry is by karel reisz (director of saturday night & sunday morning, producer of anderson’s this sporting life) and tony richardson (look back in anger, a taste of honey, the loneliness of the long distance runner).


the film depicts an evening at a jazz club, but the directors designed it to give a sense of narrative. like the others i’ve seen thus far, it has great music. this time it’s from a live jazz band.  (see full synopsis from screenonline at the end of this entry.)

while it lacks the sense of spontaneity of the last two i watched (several parts are obviously highly staged), it does have the advantage of exploring its subjects – youngish members of the working class and the emerging youth culture – in more depth, and with far more affection than o dreamland or nice time.

it’s of particular interest for its fantastic footage of kids dancin’ up a storm (wish i knew what little trot they’re doing), youth fashion, and for featuring an awkward mixing of proles and middle class brits.


(where and when did these kids used to learn their dance steps? did they need to be taught, or did they learn by example? whose example? argh. also, if anyone knows of a doc that depicts these lads actually putting the brilliantine [or whatever] in their hair… hook me up)


it left me with another question…. WHO is this john fletcher guy? he’s been attached to every one of the three free cinema docs that i’ve watched thus far. must research.











from screenonline:

Chris Barber’s jazz band unpack their instruments and rehearse for the evening concert at the Wood Green Jazz Club in North London. Meanwhile, young working-class people – a waitress, a butcher boy, a dentist’s assistant – leave their work and head for the club.

There, a crowds of youngsters are queuing to get in as the band starts playing. Teddy boys order their first pint, joke with their friends and flirt with girls while the first couples move towards the dance floor.

The friendly atmosphere is only disrupted by the arrival of a group of middle-class young people out on a “slumming night”. They show off their expensive cars, suits and evening dresses and look at the working-class youngsters with amusement and contempt. When it comes to dancing, they seem less self-assured, but everybody treats them with indifference. They leave the club as the evening goes on.

On stage the band alternates boisterous jazzy tunes and slower ballads sung by a female singer. Between two songs some couples progressively get closer, hug each other and kiss. Others have a row and then make up. A girl falls asleep on her boyfriend’s shoulder. On the dance floor the most active youngsters accelerate their pace and only stop jiving when the band decides to pack up. The revellers go home, exhausted but happy.



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