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Bowler and the Bunnet, The (1967)

Courtesy of Sean Connery and Scottish Television

Main image of Bowler and the Bunnet, The (1967)
Selected ITV regions, tx. 18/7/1967
36 mins, black and white
DirectorSean Connery
Production CompanySean Connery
 Scottish Television
ProducerBryan Izzard
Researched and written byClifford Hanley
PhotographyBill Scott
 Mario Ford

Presenter: Sean Connery

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Sean Connery looks at shipbuilding in Govan, Glasgow, and at recent attempts to improve industrial relations and modernisation in the Fairfields shipyard.

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When Sean Connery was at the height of his fame as an actor he made the surprising decision to work on this film for television about working practices in the Fairfields Shipyard on the Clyde. It is the only film he has directed.

The title refers to the contrasting hats worn by the workers and managers, which symbolised the 'them and us' class structure which pervaded the shipyards. Bunnets were the flat caps worn by many of the workers, while the managers' bowler hats distinguished them from the masses.

Connery said at the time that 'I'd never considered myself a particularly political animal', but he went to Scotland to look at the 'Fairfield's Experiment', as it was known, encouraged by his golf partner, the industrialist Iain Stewart, who was closely involved with it. The experiment involved a new approach to working practices between management and trade unions, established in response to turbulent labour relations in the shipyards and the difficult wider economic situation.

The stylish visual presentation and wry commentary of The Bowler and the Bunnet are an effective means of conveying its message. Connery has spoken of the film: "What that documentary did for me in personal terms was to make me realise that part of me belonged to that kind of background. I thought I'd left it all behind me. I thought I'd been liberated from that claustrophobic, John Knoxian narrow environment. Well, I had in a way, because of the lifestyle associated with the Bond films, but I know I just couldn't turn my back on it completely."

Despite the stardom of its director and presenter, the film has never been shown on network television, presumably because of its pointed political outlook. It was transmitted over part of the ITV network, including Scottish Television, on 18 July 1967. The film has been preserved by the Scottish Screen Archive at the National Library of Scotland. Connery recently re-edited the film, and it is this version that is presented here.

Ros Cranston

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Tales from the Shipyard'.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. Welcome to Glasgow (1:25)
2. Graveyards (2:42)
3. A world par (2:16)
4. Scottish savings (2:09)
5. The old antagonisms (3:20)
Connery, Sean (1930-)
Tales from the Shipyard