Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Love on the Dole (1941)


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!

Opening statement: "This film recalls one of the darker pages of our industrial history. On the outskirts of every City, there is a region of darkness and poverty where men and women for ever strive to live decently in face of overwhelming odds never doubting that the clouds of depression will one day be lifted. Such a district was Hanky Park in March, 1930."

Salford, 1930. Mr Hardcastle is a miner, his son; Harry, is an apprentice at the local engineering firm and Sally, his daughter, works at the cotton mills. The mine is put on three-day working. Sally meets up with Larry Meath and is invited to a Young Labour ramble in the countryside. They fall in love.

Harry wins £22 on a horse bet. When he collects his winnings from Sam Grundy, the local bookie, Grundy indicates his interest in Sally. Harry takes Helen, his girlfriend, to Blackpool for a holiday.

When his apprenticeship at a local factory ends, Harry finds himself unemployed - the owners preferring to have a regular turn-over of cheap apprentices than to pay full wages. Mr Hardcastle, too, is laid off. When Helen becomes pregnant, she and Harry have to go into lodgings in a single room, after Mr Hardcastle refuses to let them stay at home. Larry also loses his job and his and Sally's marriage is put in doubt.

With increasing unemployment and a reduction of the dole through the hated means test, the unemployed become angry. A demonstration takes place and Larry is fatally injured in a clash between police and demonstrators when he tries to restore calm. Sally borrows money from Grundy in order to pay for Larry's funeral. Grundy proposes she become his 'housekeeper'. She refuses, but later overhears the predicament of her brother - he is soon to be made homeless after the birth of his child. In spite of the fact that she will be viewed as a 'kept woman' or 'on the loose', she compromises her morals in order to assist her family. Her parents are shocked and ashamed, but with Grundy's assistance she brings money and jobs to her family.

End statement [added in 1947]. "Our working men and women have responded magnificently to any and every call made upon them. Their reward must be a new Britain. Never again must the unemployed become the forgotten men of the peace".