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Paradox City (1934)


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!

The homes of the wealthy few are contrasted with "the appalling shelter of thousands of decent citizens" in slum dwellings. Children mill about in an alley between rows of terraced houses littered with rubbish. An old woman collects water in a bucket from an outside tap and carries it up several flights of stairs. She throws waste water out of the window on top of the roof. A family of seven lives in one room in a basement. There are two beds and a sick child sleeps in one of them, next to a dirty makeshift kitchen: "What chance has she?" asks an intertitle.

In Somers Town, north London, the St. Pancras House Improvement Society (SPHIS) has bought a site containing slum flats. The building work progresses and the first block of new flats is opened by Princess Alice.

A family load their possessions into a handcart and push it through the streets to their new home. In the new flat, the father sits by the range reading the newspaper and smoking, while the mother knits in a scene of contented domesticity. There is an appeal for funds to carry on the work of building new housing: "Here is our site. Where are our funds?"