Darkly engaging look at domesticated life and parenthood by seven orphaned children in London’s sleepy Croydon suburbia. Dirk Bogarde is in excellent form as their shifty long-lost father but the children, including Pamela Franklin and Mark Lester, are far from the angels they appear to be. Julian Gloag’s novel was adapted into an excellent screenplay but Clayton and Bogarde felt the end result was a failure.
Following the death of their mother, the Hook children, fearing they’ll be sent to an orphanage, bury her in the back garden and inform inquisitive locals that the doctor has sent her to the seaside to convalesce. The children keep up the pretence by going about daily life as usual; going to school, buying the shopping and forging their mother’s name to withdraw money from the bank. When a local schoolteacher arrives at their large Victorian home demanding to see the children’s mother it appears the game is up – but the unexpected entrance of their wayward Cockney father Charlie placates the teacher. Charlie begins to spend their savings frivolously on beer and women, but when in a moment of anger he calls their mother a tart and the children all illegitimate, the innocents rise up in fury. —Britmovie.co.uk
Jack Clayton (1 March 1921 – 26 February 1995) was a British film director who specialised in bringing literary works to the screen.
A native of East Sussex, Clayton started his career as a child actor on the 1929 film Dark Red Roses. He later worked for Alexander Korda’s Denham Film Studios and rose from tea boy to assistant director to film editor.
While in service with the Royal Air Force during World War II, Clayton shot his first film, the documentary Naples is a Battlefield (1944), representing the problems in the reconstruction of Naples, the first great city liberated in World War II, ruined after Allied bombing and destruction caused by the retreating Nazis. After the war Clayton became an associate producer on many of Korda’s films, then directed the Oscar-winning short The Bespoke Overcoat (1956) based on Wolf Mankowitz’s theatrical version (1953) of Nikolai Gogol’s short story The Overcoat (1842). In this film Gogol’s story is re-located to a clothing warehouse… read more