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Boys from the Blackstuff (1982)


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!

George Malone presents himself at the dole office in donkey jacket, flat cap, and pyjama bottoms. The sympathetic official suggests he return to hospital. Instead, George visits the Albert Dock, location of his first job. 'Dixie' Dean and his teenage son, Kevin, go after him, but George is found by Chrissie, 'Loggo', and his two sons, and taken back to hospital. George has had major surgery; the doctor later tells his wife, Mary, that George is dying. Meanwhile, George disappears again. He is found at the graveside of his son, 'Snowy', who died in a building site accident. Today would have been his birthday. An ambulance takes George home.

George's living room resembles a Citizen's Advice Bureau. There is correspondence to deal with, petitioners to see. Later he sits with his two sons, and grandchildren. The sons are union officials, embittered at their colleagues' political apathy. George and Mary, whose fathers were on the Jarrow March, rebuke them for their defeatist talk. George's granddaughter asks if he's really going to die. Yosser Hughes is one of the petitioners after George's advice and wisdom. There is a waiting room full of people wanting to see George. His family decide his work has to stop.

Chrissie takes George out in his wheelchair; George reminisces. Reaching the Albert Dock, George asks to be lifted from his chair, and stands propped up against the wall. He speaks of his hope and faith in his class. Chrissie returns him to his chair, but George is already dead.

George's funeral cortege draws people on to the streets; Yosser walks behind the hearse. At the funeral mass the priest uses George's never used real name, Patrick, and is corrected by one of his sons. Chrissie loses patience with the Church's ritual and delivers his own eulogy. At the cemetery, Mary throws herself on the coffin; Yosser stands alone overlooking the grave.

At the wake, the priest disgraces himself, drunkenly vomiting in the back yard. Chrissie and Loggo visit the pub, which houses a menagerie of Liverpool characters, all scarred and distorted by unemployment. Dixie Dean and his son refuse a drink and leave. A redundancy party enters, waving fivers. Yosser arrives, and is invited by 'Shakehands' to share one of his bonecrushing handshakes. Yosser gives him his trademark headbutt. Chrissie and Loggo leave, closely followed by the landlord and Yosser. The three, in single file, head home.