Love on the Dole (film)

Love on the Dole is a 1941 British drama film starring Deborah Kerr and Clifford Evans. It was adapted from the novel of the same name by Walter Greenwood.[1] It was the first English-made feature film to show English police wielding batons against a crowd.[2]

Love on the Dole
DVD cover
Directed byJohn Baxter
Produced byJohn Baxter
Written byWalter Greenwood (novel and adaptation)
Ronald Gow (play)
Barbara K. Emary
Rollo Gamble
StarringDeborah Kerr
Clifford Evans
Music byRichard Addinsell
Orchestrated, Roy Douglas
Direction, Muir Mathieson
CinematographyJames Wilson
Edited byMichael C. Chorlton
Distributed byAnglo-American Film Corporation (UK)
United Artists (USA)
Release date
  • 28 June 1941 (1941-06-28) (UK)
  • 12 October 1945 (1945-10-12) (U.S.)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


The film is set in Hanky Park, part of Salford, in 1930 at the height of the Great Depression.

The film centres on the Hardcastle family. Mr Hardcastle is a miner; his son, Harry, is an apprentice at a local engineering firm and Sally, his daughter, works at a cotton mill.

As the depression takes hold, Mr Hardcastle's mine is put on a three-day week and Harry becomes unemployed when his apprenticeship ends. The family’s plight is made worse by reductions in means tested unemployment benefits (the dole), while the unexpected pregnancy of Harry’s girlfriend, Helen, causes further tensions. Sally has met factory worker and Labour Party activist Larry Meath, but their marriage plans are put in doubt when Larry loses his job. Larry is fatally injured when he tries to restore calm in a clash with the police during an unemployment march. Sally, reluctantly at first, becomes the mistress of a wealthy local bookmaker to help keep her unemployed family.


Critical reception

Although the book was successful, a proposed film version was rejected by the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) in 1936 as it was a "very sordid story in very sordid surroundings'".[3] However, in 1940 the BBFC approved a similar proposal, with the film finally released in June 1941.[4]

In a contemporary review, The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote "Here is a film that ranks with the best we have ever produced. The direction is excellent, the photography admirable, and the casting particularly good. There are some first-rate character studies from Mary Merrall as Mrs. Hardcastle, George Carney as Mr. Hardcastle, Frank Cellier as Sam Grundy, Martin Walker as Ned Markey, Maire O'Neill as Mrs. Dorbell, and Marie Ault as Mrs. Jike. Deborah Kerr makes an appealing Sally and is well partnered in Clifford Evans's Larry. Geoffrey Hibbert, a young new-comer to films, gives a remarkably good performance as Harry Hardcastle and is most ably supported by Joyce Howard as Helen Hawkins. The crowd scenes are worth watching. A good deal of care has been taken in their make-up and direction. The music by Richard Addinsell is worth noting, especially that which preludes the opening of the film."[5]


  1. "British Film Institute: Love on the Dole (1941)". British Film Institute.
  2. Emsley, Clive (2005). Hard Men: The English and Violence since 1750. London: Hambledon. p. 141. ISBN 1852855029.
  3. Thane, Pat (2018). Divided Kingdom: A History of Britain, 1900 to the Present. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. p. 124. ISBN 9781107040915.
  4. Love on the Dole at the BFI's Screenonline
  5. "Monthly Film Bulletin review".
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