Dance Hall (1950 film)

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Dance Hall
Dance Hall 1950 UK quad poster.jpg
Original UK quad format poster
Directed by Charles Crichton
Screenplay by E.V.H. Emmett
Diana Morgan
Alexander Mackendrick
Produced by Michael Balcon
E.V.H. Emmett
Starring Donald Houston
Bonar Colleano
Petula Clark
Natasha Parry
Jane Hylton
Diana Dors
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Edited by Seth Holt
Music byJoyce Cochrane
Reg Owen
Jack Parnell
Distributed by GFD (UK)
Release date
  • 8 June 1950 (1950-06-08)(UK) [1]
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£89,000 [2]

Dance Hall is a 1950 British drama film directed by Charles Crichton. The film was an unusual departure for Ealing Studios at the time, as it tells the story about four women and their romantic encounters from a female perspective. [3] [4]



The storyline centres on four young female factory workers who escape the monotony of their jobs by spending their evenings at the Chiswick Palais, the local dance hall, where they have various problems with their boyfriends. [5]

Main cast


Filming took place in November 1949. [6]

Peter Finch was offered a supporting role but did not appear in the final film. [7] It was Donald Houston's second film. [8]

The part of Alec was originally played by Dermot Walsh but he was replaced during filming by Bonar Colleano. "I did feel very cross about that," said Walsh later. "They'd ruined my career in first features." [9]

The film was edited by Seth Holt, who called it "terrible." [10] Actress Diana Dors later called it "a ghastly film - quite one of the nastiest I ever made" although she received positive reviews. [11]


The bands of Geraldo and Ted Heath provide most of the music in the dance hall.


Some critics felt that the lead actresses were too glamorous for the working-class ladies whom they represented but agreed that Clark, slowly emerging from her earlier children's roles, and Parry, in her screen debut, had captured the spirit of young postwar women clinging to the glamour and excitement of the dance hall. [12]

The film premiered on 8 June 1950 at the Odeon Marble Arch in London. [1] A review in The Times stated, "[T]he trouble with the film is that the characters do not match the authenticity of the background, and the working girls, who are the heroines, are too clearly girls who work in the studio and nowhere else" and concluded that the film "is not without its interest, but it does not quite live up to the high standards set by the Ealing Studios." [13]

Unusually for an Ealing production of the time, the film tells the story about the four women and their romantic encounters from a female perspective, presumably the input of screenwriter Diana Morgan. The film retains interest as "an historical piece full of incidental detail: visual reminders of London bomb sites and trolleybuses, and references to Mac Fisheries, Music While You Work , football results and rationing." [3]

FilmInk wrote: "Dors is easily the best thing about the film, playing a saucy minx out for a good time, and does not get nearly enough screen time. The film focuses more on the adventures of Parry, Hylton and … Donald Houston." [14]

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  1. 1 2 The Times, 8 June 1950, page 3: Picture Theatres – Odeon, Marble Arch Linked 2015-06-01
  2. Harper, Sue; Porter, Vincent (2003). British Cinema of The 1950s The Decline of Deference. Oxford University Press USA. p. 285.
  3. 1 2 BFI Screenonline, Roger Philip Mellor: Dance Hall (1950) Linked 2015-06-01
  4. DANCE HALL Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 17, Iss. 193, (Jan 1, 1950): 99.
  5. Capsule write-up ("Grim drama but well done") for Dance Hall's July 1957 TV broadcast in U.S. (on WSUN, channel 38 in Florida, licensed to city of St. Petersburg)
  6. "Mary Armitage's FILM CLOSE-UPS". The Mail (Adelaide) . Vol. 39, no. 1, 955. South Australia. 19 November 1949. p. 4 (SUPPLEMENT). Retrieved 21 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "Selznick-Korda Deal Is On Barter System". The Newcastle Sun . No. 9894. New South Wales, Australia. 17 September 1949. p. 10. Retrieved 21 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  8. ""Success" Was "Writing on the Wall" for Ex-Coalminer". Illawarra Daily Mercury . New South Wales, Australia. 4 January 1951. p. 10. Retrieved 21 May 2019 via National Library of Australia.
  9. McFarlane, Brian (1997). An autobiography of British cinema : as told by the filmmakers and actors who made it. Methuen. p. 591.
  10. Gough-Yates, Kevin (November–December 1969). "Seth Holt interview". Screen. Vol. 10, no. 6. p. 5.
  11. Dors, Diana (1960). Swingin' Dors. World Distributors. p. 30.
  12. George Perry: Forever Ealing: a celebration of the great British film studio (Pavilion/Michael Joseph, 1981) ISBN   9780907516064
  13. The Times, 12 June 1950, page 6: New films in London Linked 2015-06-01
  14. Vagg, Stephen (7 September 2020). "A Tale of Two Blondes: Diana Dors and Belinda Lee". Filmink.