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Cotton Come Back (1946)


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!

Betty Horton spends a romantic afternoon with her fiancé, Tom Kibble, on a Lancashire moor. In the distance, factory chimneys belch thick smoke. Tom wonders how it will be when he is demobbed and looking for a job. Meanwhile, workers leave the textile mill; among them are Betty's older sister, Annie, and her friend, Mary. They arrange to attend the Cotton Board meeting at the Town Hall that evening.

During the family evening meal, Betty, Tom and Annie try to persuade Mr Horton to accompany them to the meeting, but he is cynical about the future of cotton and won't promise to go. He used to work in the mills but felt he was treated badly and switched to engineering. He advises Tom to steer clear of cotton.

Mr Horton accompanies the others to the steps of the Town Hall but won't go inside, remaining outside with his friends. Inside, the lecturer delivers a speech designed to recruit people into the cotton industry. Impressed, Annie goes out to fetch her father. He concedes, and inside they watch a film about the history of the British cotton industry. The screening is followed by an audience discussion. Mr Horton speaks of his bitterness towards the industry. Tom, an idealist who has thought much while being in the army, asks whether the cotton industry can offer him the security and other benefits of a skilled job. The lecturer outlines all the improvements which are being implemented to upgrade conditions for workers. He finishes with the plea that nothing can be achieved without the co-operation of the people of Lancashire.

Annie persuades her father to come and see the new dance-hall at the mill. One of the managers there recognises Mr Horton as a former colleague of of his father's, and gives them a tour of the mill. Mr Horton looks keenly but says little, leaving most of the questions to Tom. By the time they reach the last floor, a subtle change has come over their relationship towards cotton and its problems. Mr Horton, while still not committing himself, admits that he could still do his bit in the mill if 'he has a mind to', but felt it was up to the young people to do the real fighting, and that it was up to them whether the machinery worked 'for the good of them and their children and of all mankind'.