Sign up for the Film Comment Letter today to get original film writing delivered to your inbox every week! >>

Home Movies: Pool of London

Basil Dearden, UK, 1951; Kino Lorber, DVD & Blu-Ray

Basil Dearden’s darkly beautiful heist thriller doubles as a melancholy study of postwar deprivation and racism. Dan (Bonar Colleano) and Johnny (Earl Cameron) are shipmates on a two-day shore leave in London, searching for a good time and a little side money in the rationing-choked city, only to become embroiled in jewel robbery and murder. Cameron made his name with his subtle, affecting work as the Jamaican sailor Johnny, who falls for a pretty English girl (Susan Shaw) but finds himself the target of petty insults and, eventually, becomes the fall guy. Cinematographer Gordon Dines makes skillful use of the central London locations, especially in a climactic nighttime chase and the heartrending Sunday morning denouement in the empty streets.

Farran Smith Nehme has written about film and film history for the New York Post, Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal, Film Comment, the Village Voice, and Sight & Sound as well as for her blog, Self-Styled Siren. Her novel, Missing Reels, was published in 2014.