Till Death Us Do Part (film)

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Till Death Us Do Part
"Till Death Us Do Part" (1969).jpg
Film Poster
Directed by Norman Cohen
Written by Johnny Speight
Produced by Jon Penington
Starring Warren Mitchell
Dandy Nichols
Tony Booth
Una Stubbs
Cinematography Harry Waxman
Edited byAnthony Lenny
Music by Wilfred Burns
Associated London Films
Distributed by British Lion Film Corporation
Release dates
  • 12 December 1968 (1968-12-12)(World premiere)
  • 10 January 1969 (1969-01-10)(United Kingdom)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£300,000 [1]
Box office£1 million [1]

Till Death Us Do Part (also known as Alf'n' Family) is a 1968 British comedy film directed by Norman Cohen, written by Johnny Speight, and starring Warren Mitchell and Dandy Nichols. [2] It was based on the BBC television series of the same name created by Speight. A sequel, The Alf Garnett Saga , followed in 1972. [3]



The film begins in September 1939 shortly before World War II begins. Alf Garnett, a dockyard worker, and his wife Else have been married for only a few weeks, and are already weary of one another. Alf gets called up for military duty but is turned down because he's in a reserved occupation. The film depicts their lives during the London Blitz. Else eventually gets pregnant to Alf and Else's shock, and they have a baby daughter, Rita, in 1942. The war ends in 1945 with a huge street party and Alf, characteristically, gets drunk.

Midway through the film it advances from the end of World War II to the 1966 General Election. Rita is now a young woman and engaged to Mike Rawlins, a long-haired layabout from Liverpool. Alf dislikes him because of his support for the Labour Party. Mike and Rita marry in a Catholic church, further angering Alf. At the wedding supper he fights with Mike's family. But Alf and Mike grow a bit closer, attending the 1966 FIFA World Cup final together.

The film ends in 1968 with the family moving to a new tower block in Essex after their East End neighbourhood street is demolished.



Don Sharp was originally meant to direct but during production had disagreements with Johnny Speight over the script which led to Sharp being fired. [4]

The film had investment from the Robert Stigwood Organisation. [5] It went over budget but recovered its cost with a successful theatre run. [1]

Location footage was filmed in Tower Hamlets.[ citation needed ]

The theme tune was composed by Ray Davies of the Kinks. Sung by Chas Mills, it is heard briefly at the end of the film over the closing credits.

The film operates in a separate continuity to that of the TV series, most notably the Garnetts moving out of Wapping which did not occur in the series or its continuation.



The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote: "The familiar story of a successful half-hour television series expanded for the big screen and losing itself in the process. On television Johnny Speight's outrageous bigot was allowed to work out his prejudices one by one; the formula was relaxed, ideal for the cumulative effect essential to a television comedy series. Transferred to a feature-length film, the Garnett persona is diminished rather than extended, and the acerbity of the original is almost inevitably sugared over. The script attempts to steer round this difficulty by taking us back to the war, and the recreation of wartime Wapping ... is accurate and ingenious, if a little too insistently nostalgic. But the film itself is formless and uneven, and Alf's essential crudity is matched by Norman Cohen's characterless direction, which too often falls back on playing to the gallery (repeated lavatory jokes, Alf rising to attention from his bath in naked homage to the National Anthem or stealing milk from his baby's bottle). The second half of the film is no more than a string of disconnected sketches, some of them, like the football match, purloined from the television series; Alf's prejudices are reduced to a few badly timed jibes at all and sundry. ... Above all, the didactic purpose of the original is completely gone: watching the film at a public showing one noticed that the audience consistently laughed with Alf rather than at him." [6]

Time Out wrote, "In its favour, it preserves the original characterisations at something like full strength and doesn't attempt to stitch three weekly episodes together and pass it off as a feature." [7]

Box office

Till Death Us Do Part was the third-most popular film at the UK box office in 1969. [8]

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  1. 1 2 3 Oakes, Philip (20 August 1972). "Digging for TV Treasure". Sunday Times. No. 7784. p. 38.
  2. "Till Death Us Do Part". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 13 April 2024.
  3. The Alf Garnett Saga
  4. Sharp, Don (2 November 1993). "Don Sharp Side 5" (Interview). Interviewed by Teddy Darvas and Alan Lawson. London: History Project. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  5. City comment: Thanks to the pound Swan, Hunter; Stigwood, Robert. The Guardian 2 August 1972: 16.
  6. "Till Death Us Do Part". The Monthly Film Bulletin . 36 (420): 36. 1 January 1969. ProQuest   1305825873 via ProQuest.
  7. "Till Death Us Do Part | review, synopsis, book tickets, showtimes, movie release date | Time Out London". Timeout.com. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  8. "The World's Top Twenty Films." Sunday Times [London, England] 27 September 1970: 27. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. accessed 5 April 2014