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Lena, O My Lena (1960)


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!

A warehouse in Lancashire, the early 1960s. Tom, a green young student from Liverpool, arrives in the yard looking for work. The foreman, Ted, looks him over and judges him just about suitable. Another worker, the backward Derek, shows Tom the ropes, but nearly injures him when he loads a heavy sack on Tom's back.

When the women workers from the neighbouring factory come out to sit in the summer sun, Tom notices one striking brunette, Lena. Later, he bumps into her in the yard and strikes up an awkward conversation. At lunchtime, Tom eats with Ted in the local café. Ted asks why Tom didn't choose to take a job pea-picking up the hill with the other students. Tom explains he doesn't feel comfortable with his peers, and insists he is from working-class roots.

As Lena and her friend Peggy sit smoking in their spot round the back of the café, Peggy asks about Tom, and about Glyn, the delivery driver. Lena insists she has finished with Glyn, and cagily admits an interest in Tom. When Tom turns up, he sits with them and chats. Peggy goes to get cigarettes, leaving Tom alone with Lena. Tom asks Lena to come with him that evening mentions a nice pub up the road, where the students go, and Tom asks her to show it to him. She agrees when he suggests she bring Peggy along.

That afternoon, one of the factory girls tells Glyn that Tom has been chatting with Lena. When Glyn sees Tom loading his van, he orders him out, then pushes past him, knocking him down.

Later, on their way to meet Tom, Lena and Peggy are stopped by Glyn. Lena coldly brushes him off. Inside, they meet Tom, who buys them drinks. Lena is dismissive of the other students in the pub. Peggy takes a shine to a 'foreign' student, and the two couples go for a walk, making their way past Glyn, chatting up two student girls.

Separated from the others, Tom and Lena settle in a spot overlooking the reservoir. She gently mocks his views and way of speaking. Tom tells Lena he has never met a girl like her before. He insists he loves her and they kiss. As they get ready to go, they hear Glyn singing.

Next day, Ted sends Tom to fetch tea to keep him out of Glyn's way. The women come out of the factory, and Lena and Peggy talk about Tom. When pressed, Lena admits she loves Glyn. Tom, on his way back with the teas, says hello, and asks Lena to meet at lunch. She agrees. Glyn watches from outside the fence.

Glyn approaches Lena and demands to speak with her; reluctantly, she goes with him. With his arm around Lena, Glyn provocatively leads her past Tom. Tom is furious, and chases after him, telling him that Lena is with him now, and doesn't want Glyn. With the factory women looking on, Glyn explains that Lena was only with Tom to make him jealous, and suggests Tom rejoins 'his own sort' up the road. When Tom attacks him, Glyn knocks him down. Lena, comforting Tom, suggests he do as Glyn says, saying she was only having a bit of fun with him. She leaves with Glyn. Tom struggles to raise himself, but falls again, to the laughter of the women.

Confused and crestfallen, Tom goes to Ted and demands his wages, and announces he is going up the road to join the other students.