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Bank Holiday (1938)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

In a London hospital maternity ward, Ann Howard is wheeled into the operating theatre while Nurse Catherine tells Stephen Howard that there is no improvement in her condition and that the staff are pessimistic.

Newspaper headlines expect record numbers heading for the seaside to mark the Bank Holiday weekend. At one of London's main stations, a young man circles the price of a hotel room on a brochure. Miss Mayfair, a beauty queen poses for photographers, to the disgust of her rival, Miss Fulham (Doreen), who is travelling with her best friend Milly. A raucous Cockney family comprising Arthur, May and their three small children is also boarding the train.

Catherine gets a call from Geoffrey, the young man in the station. He's waiting for her, but she can't leave as it's a matter of life and death. She asks him to ring back in an hour, and he goes to kill time at the station cinema.

Ann dies during the operation. Stephen is devastated, and unsure about whether he wants to see his baby. He finally elects to do so, but takes it badly. Worried about his mental well-being, Catherine asks if she can accompany him home, but he wants to be alone. She later discovers that he left his cigarette lighter behind.

Catherine finally joins Geoffrey at the station. On the train, he tries to tell her about the luxury hotel they'll be staying in, but she's preoccupied with the day's earlier events.

Stephen returns home, but cannot escape memories of Ann. He rings the hospital to speak to Catherine, but she has left for the weekend.

Geoffrey discovers Stephen's lighter in Catherine's possession and asks her about it. She explains, but he's unhappy that she can't let go of her work. Changing the subject, she asks him if he booked the hotel, but he says it wasn't necessary.

In fact, the Bexborough resort is packed, and Geoffrey is rebuffed by the Grand. Doreen and Milly drink in the bar, and discuss Doreen's ex-boyfriend Jack, who recently broke up with her.

Geoffrey and Catherine fail to find a hotel, and decide to sleep on the beach - along with dozens of others. They eat fish and chips and watch the lights go out. Arthur starts a row with a nearby man. Milly and Doreen are there too, and Milly is delighted to find herself lying next to a man in uniform. At night, Catherine looks out to sea, thinking of Stephen.

The next day, Geoffrey and Catherine go swimming, but she is stand-offish towards him, refusing to jump in the water for him to catch her. Meanwhile Arthur, May and family explore the varied delights of the pier - Arthur sneaks off to catch a Bexborough Follies stage show, while May finds her daughter investigating a saucy peepshow machine.

Geoffrey manages to get a room at the Grand. Catherine tries to ring Stephen, who picks up the phone but does not answer. She writes a note telling Geoffrey that she's made a mistake. He comes to the room to look for her, and she says that they've been deceiving themselves, that they were lonely rather than in love. She stresses that it's not his fault, and leaves.

The penniless Catherine is thrown out of a cab en route, but the manager of the Bexborough Follies offers her a lift. She accepts, unaware of the fact that he's just stolen with the box office takings.

Intending to drown his sorrows in the bar, Geoffrey spills his drink over Doreen. He takes her to his room to clean up. She is initially worried about her beauty contest spot, but then sees Catherine's note and recognises a kindred spirit. She abandons the contest in favour of talking about Catherine and Jack.

The car is stopped, and its ccupants are arrested. The manager claims that they're married, and that the case with the money is Catherine's, though he eventually confesses all. A policeman drives her back to London, just in time to save Stephen from a suicide attempt.

The train arrives back in London with all the Bexborough holidaymakers. Geoffrey and Doreen are now a couple - as are Stephen and Catherine.