' ' Cinema Romantico: Friday's Old Fashioned: It Always Rains on Sunday (1947)

Friday, September 22, 2023

Friday's Old Fashioned: It Always Rains on Sunday (1947)

I don’t know if it always rains on Sunday as the title of Robert Hamer’s adaptation of Arthur La Bern’s novel suggests, but it rains throughout “It Always Rains on Sunday,” the incessant pitter-patter seeping into your head the way it seems to seep into the bones of its various characters spread around London’s East End, post-WWII, East End, that is, the rain drenching the rubble, like the whole world is being viewed through a broken window a la the Sandigate home where the movie more or less opens. Even tea, that ancient medicinal balm, becomes fraught, as Rose Sandigate (Googie Withers) instigates household matters by waking up and rapping the wall beside her bed, ordering her stepdaughter Doris (Patricia Plunkett) to get up and make some tea, keeping after her when she gossips a little with her sister Vi (Susan Shaw), out late the night before with a gentleman suitor. They don’t seem to like Rose, and Rose doesn’t much like them, and patriarch George (Edward Chapman) just sort of good-naturedly but obliviously takes up room in the middle, reading the paper, learning about the prison breakout of Tommy Swann (John McCallum), the plot detail lording over this rainy Sunday.
Indeed, if technically “It Always Rains on Sunday” is an ensemble piece, comprised of assorted storylines unfolding around the East End during this wet Sabbath, it ultimately belongs to Rose. The one-time fiancé of Tommy, he seeks her out for help, and when she provides it, Withers plays it less with passion than dissatisfaction of her own existence. Ripping Vi’s dress when Rose fights to keep her stepdaughter out of the bedroom where Tommy is hiding might be a metaphor the tearing apart of the family, but the rage of Withers is more primal than that, more terrifying, something even like hatred, evincing the sense of her own life having washed away in the rain and lashing out at everyone else she perceives as being to blame. And even if the movie itself fashions a happy-ish ending for Rose, there remains something unsettled in Withers’s turn, a refusal to truly believe that Come Monday, as the bard of the beach once sang, everything will be alright. 

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