Newest Reviews
Killer Party
Holmes & Watson
Monster in the Closet
Sand, The
My Brilliant Career
Knife for the Ladies, A
Man in the Attic
No Kidding
Honkytonk Man
Woman in the Window, The
Shed of the Dead
Dead Easy
Last Movie Star, The
Death Game
Juliet, Naked
Sugar Hill
House with the Clock in Its Walls, The
Devil Thumbs a Ride, The
Secret People
Spy Who Dumped Me, The
Beautiful Stranger
House That Jack Built, The
White Chamber
Summer of 84
On Secret Service
My Sister Eileen
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween
Last Picture Show, The
Newest Articles
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
Oh, What Happened to You? The Likely Lads on Blu-ray
Killer Apps: The Rise of the Evil 60s Supercomputers
How 1970s Can You Get? Cliff Richard in Take Me High vs Never Too Young to Rock
A Perfect Engine, An Eating Machine: The Jaws Series
  Spring and Port Wine Grim Up NorthBuy this film here.
Year: 1970
Director: Peter Hammond
Stars: James Mason, Diana Coupland, Hannah Gordon, Susan George, Rodney Bewes, Len Jones, Keith Buckley, Avril Elgar, Adrienne Posta, Frank Windsor, Arthur Lowe, Marjorie Rhodes, Bernard Bresslaw, Joseph Grieg, Christopher Timothy, Ken Parry, Bryan Pringle
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Bolton, and another day at the cotton mills is over as the workers stream out the gates and into the streets, though for engineer Rafe Crompton (James Mason) he's not leaving until everything has been safely wound down. Back home, his wife Daisy (Diana Coupland) is preparing the evening meal of fried herring, and the family of four sons and daughters are settling in the front room, as usual all too aware that if they step out of line their father will come down on them like a ton of bricks. But tonight youngest daughter Hilda (Susan George) doesn't feel like eating herring, and wonders if she can get out of it...

From such minor incidents do grow a major crisis in this big screen adaptation of Bill Naughton's play, which he scripted himself. He had penned the better known movies, also based on his plays, Alfie and The Family Way (which was similar to this) back in the sixties, but the reaction to his efforts here were not quite as warm, reckoning that it had been better on the stage, and many wondering what James Mason was doing in a low budget comedy drama with a hefty dose of the "Eeh bah gum" about it. The answer to that was that he was being excellent, as if you forgot, however temporarily, his megastar status you could perceive a wonderful humanity to his performance.

Basically Mason was applying the reason he became such a big star - his talent for acting - to the material, and he was a substantial part of what turned Spring and Port Wine into the cult movie it was for decades to come, that and the sense of times past. As if being in his presence lifted the entire cast's game, wanting to keep up with him, some wavering accents aside everyone's portrayal was exemplary, and the sense of a genuine family was difficult to deny as the melodrama played out. The main issue Crompton has with Hilda is when she turns her nose up at the herring, and asks for a poached egg instead, nothing much to her but to her father a slap in the face of all those he grew up with, watching them starve on the dole.

Being of a younger generation, Hilda isn't interested to hear yet another of Dad's boring stories about how life were hard when he were a lad, which simply serves to widen the rift between them, to the point where he orders Daisy to serve the very same herring every mealtime until Hilda deigns to eat it. She has inherited her father's pride, however, and a battle of wills ensues, building a tension in the air that you can positively feel crackling with electricity, well aware that the brewing storm of emotions is going to break sooner or later. What was interesting was the script didn't settle on taking one side or the other, as you were made conscious that they both had a point.

However, Crompton's pettiness in making his point is impossible to deny as the crux of the matter, and the elder daughter Florence (Hannah Gordon) sees her boyfriend Arthur (Keith Buckley) stand up to the old man resulting in them both swearing never to return, no matter how Daisy feels. Thus the ripples from that damned herring incident expand until nobody in the movie is unaffected, and the situation develops into something far more grave when Crompton's stubborness breaks up the family he had so wanted to keep together. It's the stuff of tragedy, yet every so often there would be a funny line or two and you could regard this with a perspective the characters cannot see up to the stage where it's almost too late. There were crises and surprises, but Naughton's dialogue for Mason was in many cases priceless, with many a proverb and adage convincing you of his Godfearing wisdom in spite of his pigheadedness when it came to admitting that maybe he could be wrong sometimes. Music by Douglas Gamley.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2221 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (2)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Paul Shrimpton
Darren Jones
George White
Stately Wayne Manor


Last Updated: