Eye For Film >> Movies >> Cathy Come Home (1966) DVD Review
Cathy Come Home
Reviewed by: David StannersRead David Stanners's film review of Cathy Come Home
The commentaries from Ken Loach and Jeremy Sandford throw light on a dark subject. Basic insights into how the director and writer conceived their project are shared - what shape the documentary would take and whether real people or actors would be used. Interestingly, Loach decided to cast Carol White, above others, because she was a mother with two kids (featured in the film), living through that period and suffering the effects of the desperate housing shortage. From such personal experience, he felt she was able to capture the zeitgeist perfectly and sustain an emotional impact real people could not provide in a straightforward documentary. After failing to gauge public empathy from factual radio reportage, this was another reason he opted for a film treatment, with trained actors using a script, over the plain social documentary.
Other notable features are the obstacles Loach stumbled over while making the film. Understandably, struggling to gain permission from certain local councils to shoot footage, he was at times forced to film illicitly. No doubt the council had an inclination that he and Sandford were not interested in painting a rosy picture of them.
The Housing Problems documentary provides the visual clobber. Documenting the insipid taste of squalor in the slums, it then moves towards an optimistic antidote - the construction of large-scale concrete monstrosities lining the suburbs. Often built around complexes with local amenities, these only provided a fraction of the solution to slum housing. Cathy's story represents the 4000 families left on the scrap heap without a proper home.
The statement from Shelter, founded a week after the release of the film, crystallises in monumental fashion a wonderful social achievement, halting Birmingham Council's decision to separate 300 families. At a time when the cultural winds were rapidly changing, Loach and Sandford's collaboration helped realign Britain's social vicissitudes, which was no mean feat.
Other worthwhile extras are the biographies of these men. Both were Oxford graduates and born into respectable middle-class families, sharing an obsession with the less fortunate. This is well documented in both cases.
Finally there's a nice touch with the view of the day-by-day film schedules. This is also available to save and print on DVD Rom.Reviewed on: 18 Nov 2003