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From The Ground Up (1950)


Main image of From The Ground Up (1950)
35mm, black and white, 9 mins
Production CompanyCrown Film Unit
SponsorsCentral Office of Information
 Economic Information Unit
MusicVilem Tausky
NarratorJack Ralph

A report on postwar reconstruction in Britain, stressing that one-fifth of all our resources go towards rebuilding, modernisation and expansion.

Show full synopsis

Civil service correspondence in files held by the National Archives indicates their intentions for films such as From the Ground Up. The Economic Information Unit advised the Central Office of Information that "the purpose of this film is to explain as simply and fully as possible the importance to British industry of the national capital investment policy", underlining the "vital necessity for the greatest possible number of people to understand… the essential part the present programme has to play in economic recovery".

Nonetheless, it was cheaply made, as part of a regular series of monthly releases. It is thus a useful example of routine COI-Crown production, putting the cheerful, briskly informative style of commercial newsreels to propagandist purposes. It blends specially shot footage with library material (taken from such sources as British Transport, a Mining Review issue, and another Data film for the steel industry), under jaunty music and impersonal narration. Echoing wartime austerity propaganda, it urges national self-denial on the promise of jam tomorrow.

It has been argued that the Crown Film Unit was effectively asset-stripped by the Government - kept idle, or confined largely to potboilers such as this film while the more interesting commissions went to the independent production sector, in order to justify it being shut down. The Conservative government closed it in 1952.

Patrick Russell

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Land of Promise: The British Documentary Movement 1930-1950'.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. A new country (3:33)
2. The web of productivity (0:48)
3. Beyond the cities (1:35)
Complete film (9:20)
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Frankel, Cyril (1921-)
Legg, Stuart (1910-1988)