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David Barr is the manager and chief designer of a British shipyard (when we still built ships). The shipyard is in financial trouble but Barr has a design for a new ship that will save them all. Can he get the ship built in spite of the opposition from his own bankers as well as the rival shipbuilders and their infiltrated militants.Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With none of the technology of today, I got a great glimpse of REAL, not CGI, shipyards in which gigantic ships were built. And all very similar to the ships my father helped design for WWII in Newport News, Va. And this was right after the 2nd depression caused when Congress refused to fund the 2nd infusion of WPA funds for fear of 'going into debt', the madness that we now have today.
To watch the work of the ship builders in Glascow was delightful. to watch the steel being made, as it was in Birmingham, Al when I was a child in the 'Pittsburg of the south' reminded me of when we were a mighty nation of manufacturing, not child-like consumers and paper-pushers.
the amazing thing was that this Michael Powell movie had no illusions: both protagonists and antagonists were 'immoral'. One lied and forged his competitor's signature to get the funding for his ship ('ends justifies the means'?); the other was far more nefarious, burning down the ship and embedding saboteurs in the work force of David Barr's shipbuilding company. A great point: there is a GREAT difference between wholesale corruption and lying as the Tea Partiers are showing us now, and the dilly-dallying of some of the Dem office holders (e.g., Spitzer). Yes, we have 'evil' on both sides, but some evil is far more destructive than other.
In this movie, the media did a wonderful thing, bringing to the attention of Parliament the lesser crime that Barr committed in order to save British shipping. And in such terms, his forgery was couched. Today's corporate media paints both parties in the same light, knowingly re-instating an oligarchy of Big Business under the pretense of presenting a 'fair and balanced' view of the shenanigans going on. What a contrast!!! The class differences were also shown quite obviously in the dress and accent of the actors, but why would a Scottish head of business sound like an English laird? Could it be because when all the Brits go to college, they come out sounding posh?
I loved the movie, made in 1934, because it showed me aspects of my Scottish background I could never see before. The Copelands were shipbuilders in Glascow before emigrating to the South, where my uncle was an engineer in the steel mills in Fairfield, Al and my father designed the ships that fought WWII in Va. It brought my background to light in a way that the history books could not.
And the writing was excellent, despite the hurried up courtship between the woman and David Barr. She obviously saw through the phoniness and lack of quality in the 'chairman of the board', to whom she was engaged. And hearing David Barr take on the board, as well as all the shipbuilders who weren't getting their week's pay immediately made her fall head over heels with him. But we were spared the romantic details, since this was about brave men and what it took to get the shipyards sparking again. Now when is someone going to do that for my poor country, foundering on the rocks of corruption and greed?
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