It Always Rains on Sunday
The first time Rose spies the handsome Tommy Swann in It Always Rains on Sunday she’s smitten. She’s working the bar in an East End London boozer when the saloon doors open and Tommy sweeps in wearing a double-breasted suit, a hat tilted just so and a cigarette dangling from his lips. Their eyes lock and when ordering his first drink, buys her one as well. She melts. A brief courtship follows and then a Sunday picnic where he produces a ring and pops the question. A happy marriage beckons, or so the audience believes. The next time they meet however, it’s an entirely different picture.
This is several years later and Tommy has just escaped from prison. The police have set up a country-wide dragnet so the safest place he can think to rest up is at Rose’s house. The Anderson shelter in her back yard to be precise which is where she stumbles on him as she dives for cover on this inclement Sabbath.
Those few years have been tough on her former lover. Gone are the good looks, the confident swagger and the dapper suit. What remains is an emaciated, bedraggled wreck. Penniless, terrified and ravenous with hunger. He begs Rose to hide him. For old times’ sake she agrees.
This is the first time Rose has seen Tommy since his incarceration. In the years since she’s moved on with her life, marrying a widower and adopting his three children. and it’s into this environment that she must bring Tommy. Getting the family out of the way she secretes her former paramour into the marital bed, bringing him hot food while he makes plans to board a ship to Cape Town and freedom.
At first Rose is not interested in her former beau but as the day goes by the attraction, and the tension, between the two heats up. It helps of course, that Rose is played by Googie Withers and Tommy by John McCallum, real life husband and wife who appeared in nearly a dozen films together. It helps too that the director is the Ealing stalwart Robert Hamer.
In other hands this could have been a rather two-dimensional story of lovers reuniting but under Hamer’s direction there is a lot of excitement within the melodrama. He also demonstrates a great flair for characterisation. All of Rose’s family are well-written characters, the children variously bucking against their new ‘mother’, the husband pinballed between competing factions.
The neighbourhood citizens are entertaining too and serve the wider story. Particularly good are the two Hyams brothers, one who earns money dishonestly yet spends it virtuously while the other makes an honest crust but spends it dishonourably. Ever watchful on the sidelines is the tenacious (and very passive-aggressive) Jack Warner, playing a police detective always moments away from grabbing Tommy.
Ealing Studios is better known for their comedies but it’s when they delved into dramas like this that they struck real gold. Strongly recommended.
It Always Rains on Sunday directed by Robert Hamer (1947)
A London community is turned upside down by the presence of an escaped convict in their midst.