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Brave Don't Cry, The (1952)


Main image of Brave Don't Cry, The (1952)
35mm, black and white, 89 mins
DirectorPhilip Leacock
Production CompanyGroup 3
ScreenplayMontagu Slater
Additional DialogueLindsay Galloway
Director of PhotographyArthur Grant

Cast: John Gregson (John Cameron), Meg Buchanan (Margaret Wishart), John Rae (Donald Sloan), Fulton MacKay (Dan Wishart), Andrew Keir (Charlie Ross), Wendy Noel (Jean Knox)

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After a mudslide traps 118 men down a mine, a specialist rescue team has to work out how to rescue them.

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Based on a disaster at Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery in 1950, The Brave Don't Cry (1952) dramatises the tensions and rescue of men trapped in a mine. Initial disquiet about a film based on a recent tragedy gave way to agreement that the subject had been handled with sensitivity and dignity. Originally to be titled What God Forgot, it premiered under its new title at the Edinburgh Film Festival in August 1952, with an invited audience of miners. It was made in a six-week shoot using locations in Scotland and Southall Studios and, according to Donald Alexander of the National Coal Board, was provided "...with every material facility that was required".

The film is variously described as drama-documentary, semi-documentary, neo-realist and all variations in between. Certainly it uses many of the documentary/realist production values. Furthermore, most of the crew were part of the documentary tradition: the producer was John Grierson; the production controller was John Baxter, himself no stranger to mixing drama and real people; director Philip Leacock had made documentaries and two shorts that dealt with sensitive issues within a fictional framework - this was his first feature. Add to this the scriptwriter, Montagu Slater, who specialised in documentaries, and it is no surprise the film has a documentary feel.

Made by Group 3, a state-funded organisation through the National Film Finance Corporation, the film is generally considered one of its better works and was both a critical and commercial success.

Simon Baker

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Video Clips
Extract (2:16)
Monthly Film Bulletin review
Mining Review 6/1: On Set (1952)
Baxter, John (1896-1975)
Day, Tilly (1903-1994)
Leacock, Philip (1917-1990)
National Coal Board Film Unit (1952-84)
From Pit to Screen
King Coal
Social Problem Films