Fame Is the Spur (film)

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Fame is the Spur
"Fame Is the Spur" (1947).jpg
Directed by Roy Boulting
Written by Nigel Balchin
Howard Spring (novel)
Produced by John Boulting
Starring Michael Redgrave
Rosamund John
Bernard Miles
David Tomlinson
Cinematography Günther Krampf
Edited by Richard Best
Music by John Wooldridge
Boulting Brotherrs in association with Two Cities Films
Distributed by General Film Distributors
Release date
  • 23 September 1947 (1947-09-23)
Running time
116 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budgetover $1 million [1]

Fame is the Spur is a 1947 British drama film directed by Roy Boulting. It stars Michael Redgrave, Rosamund John, Bernard Miles, David Tomlinson, Maurice Denham and Kenneth Griffith. [2] Its plot involves a British politician who rises to power, abandoning on the way his radical views for more conservative ones. It is based on the 1940 novel Fame Is the Spur by Howard Spring, which was believed to be based on the career of the Labour Party politician Ramsay MacDonald. [3]



When Hamer Radshaw, a young man from a North country mill town, commits to help the poverty-stricken workers in his area, he takes as his Excalibur a sword passed down to him by his grandfather from the Battle of Peterloo, where it had been used against workers. As an idealistic champion of the oppressed, he rises to power as a Labour M.P., but is seduced by the trappings of power and finds himself the type of politician he originally despised.


Critical reception

In The New York Times at the time of the 1949 American release, Bosley Crowther commented: "this John and Roy Boulting film has vivid authority and fascination...But, unfortunately, a full comprehension of the principal character in this tale is missed in the broad and extended panorama of his life that is displayed...Mr. Redgrave is glib and photogenic; he acts the 'lost leader' in a handsome style. But he does not bring anything out about him that is not stated arbitrarily"; [4]

The Radio Times reviewer David Parkinson has praised Redgrave's "powerhouse performance, with his gradual shedding of heartfelt beliefs as vanity replaces commitment having a chillingly convincing ring. But such is Redgrave's dominance that there's little room for other characters to develop or for any cogent social agenda." [5] According to Allmovie, the film is "sometimes slow-moving", but "is an interesting look into the reasons why the Labor [sic] and the Conservative factions are at loggerheads with each other in Great Britain". [6]

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  1. "Variety (September 1947)". 1947.
  2. "Fame Is the Spur". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  3. "Fame Is The Spur". TV Guide.
  4. Crowther, Bosley (8 November 1949). "Movie Review - Fame Is the Spur - THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; ' Fame Is the Spur,' British Film Based on Novel by Spring, Opens at Little CineMet". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  5. David Parkinson. "Fame Is the Spur". RadioTimes.
  6. "Fame Is the Spur (1947) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast - AllMovie". AllMovie.