Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
From Spain to Streatham (1959)


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!

On a rubbish tip, several children play inside the ruins of an abandoned piano, turning it into an impromptu percussion instrument. One of the children, Laurie, is summoned by his mother, and they visit a music shop, where he tries out one of their guitars.

With the aid of 'The Skif-Rok Guitar Tutor', Laurie plays the guitar in his room, in front of large pictures of Elvis Presley. His mother, cleaning ornaments downstairs, can't help but hear him, but she smiles. Laurie accompanies a recording of 'Hound Dog'.

Nearby, a group lesson is taking place, and a student plays a classical study. Her teacher Mr Williams corrects her positioning, explaining the importance of achieving an even distribution of power along the guitar. Another student plays a Scarlatti piece. A third student takes it up, but plays it too fast, making technical mistakes.

Mr Skinner visits Wormwood Scrubs prison to teach inmates the banjo. He also teaches in evening classes sponsored by the London County Council, where he leads a rendition of 'Oh When The Saints Go Marching In' by massed guitars, though he is unimpressed with the performance.

Davey Graham gives an impromptu jazz performance in on a pile of rubble in a building site, to the delight of passing locals. Another guitarist, Davina Dundas (Lord Napier's Cheltenham-educated great-granddaughter) performs a French chanson in front of the Albert Memorial as assorted people bask in the sunshine. A park keeper walks up to them.

A Salvation Army band performs a hymn with multiple voices and guitars, watched by curious passers-by. But the guitar is more frequently used as a secular instrument, both by beat groups and on the concert platform. A rock'n'roll guitarist can be turned out in twelve hours, while a classical guitarist needs twelve years of solid study.