Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Wakefield Express (1952)

Courtesy of The Wakefield Express (Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group)

Main image of Wakefield Express (1952)
16mm, 30 min, black & white
DirectorLindsay Anderson
Production CompanyMichael Robinson;
 Wakefield Express Ltd.
CinematographyWalter Lassally

Commentary read by George Potts

Show full cast and credits

Study of a traditional industrial community seen through the columns of its local newspaper.

Show full synopsis

In the same way as he did with O Dreamland (1954) in the first Free Cinema programme, Lindsay Anderson took advantage of the Free Cinema 3 programme to show another of his short films which had been sitting on a shelf unseen for several years. Wakefield Express was commissioned in 1952 by the eponymous newspaper to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Originally intended to be a film showing how the paper was printed, in Anderson's hands it became a much more personal study of the communal life of a group of towns in the West Riding area of Yorkshire. It was the first time Anderson worked with Free Cinema mainstays John Fletcher and Walter Lassally.

The film follows the local reporters as they travel around the area in search of newsworthy events: the local rugby tea, a school concert, a constituency political meeting, the launching of a ship and the unveiling of a war memorial among others. Although it was made four years before the advent of Free Cinema, Wakefield Express can be seen as a transition between Anderson's early 'industrial films' like Meet the Pioneers (1948) and his Free Cinema contributions, especially in the way in which he shows his interest in ordinary life and people, and expresses his own point of view as a filmmaker. In the words of the programme note, "there is nothing of the impartiality of the 'general survey' about the film's approach. Its perceptive, humanist outlook brings enough concern to the communal activities to view them, in turn, with affection and irony, exasperation and respect."

Christophe Dupin

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Free Cinema'.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (32:10)
Tomorrow's Merseysiders (1974)
Anderson, Lindsay (1923-1994)
Lassally, Walter (1926-)
Free Cinema
Free Cinema 3