Once a Jolly Swag Man

Culture

Once a Jolly Swag Man, the 1949 film directed by Brit bred Aussie emigre Jack Lee has all the stoney monochrome credibility of the best Ealing films. Throw in a subtle but dashing performance by Dirk Bogarde to the mix – as well as a rake of roaring motorcycles by J.A Prestwich – and you have a great way to spend a wet afternoon on the sofa.

A sketchy plot that draws in all the class-saturated clichés of the era is augmented by great racing scenes – and the piece on the whole is a fascinating insight into the place that motorsport held in the life of the British working class of the WW2 era.

Speedway is perhaps the most accessible type of bike racing out there and the film evokes perfectly the blue collar character of the oval track. You can almost smell the grease and the Woodbines and the whiff of damp wool.

There is a refreshing absence of self-conscious style in the art-direction of the film and certainly none of the gritty glamour portrayed in racing movies of the sixties, but it’s a really interesting document for anyone interested in how motorsport is weaved into the fabric of the wider culture.

Order it here…

via Moto Freako

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