Both Sides of the Law (1953) Poster

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henry-girling3 September 2003
Directed by one of the few women directors in the 1950s, 'Street Corner' concentrates on several women police officers going about their work. Several negative comments are made by the characters in the film about 'cops in skirts' but the film shows how capable they are. Nothing is mentioned about their home lives, they are people with a job who get on with it. Made in the early fifties it gives a foretaste of the social changes to come. The women policeman are defined by their work not their relationships. Most of the incidents are 'domestic' but there is robbery and violence too in the film.

The film is located in London and it is startling to see in the film early housing estates being used by the characters. It is a cliche in modern British films to have the housing estate as a nexus of crime and poverty. In this film they are look clean and the lifts work. The film has a similar feel to the classic Ealing film 'The Blue Lamp'.

The male actors are bland but the female actors are accomplished British performers, Rosamund John, Barbara Murray, Anne Crawford, Sarah Lawson, Eleanor Summerfield, Peggy Cummins etc. Dora Bryan and Thora Hird are hilarious in bit parts. Films like these from the fifties need re-appraisal as they are more than the sum of their parts. A modest but absorbing film, I'm pleased I picked it up in a sale at a video shop.
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A fascinating portrait of post - war London.
ianlouisiana17 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
When I joined the Met a few years later I found that in fact there was an average of 3 WPCs posted to every station (one for each shift) and,as shown in "Street Corner",they were mainly used to deal with children,toms(as sex workers were unhelpfully termed at that time),shoplifters (who were reckoned to be mainly women anyway) and women prisoners. They were referred to by supervising officers as "Miss" regardless of their marital status and never "dear" or "darling" as so many subsequent films and tv shows. Frankly most women officers were happy with their role. Those who weren't simply moved to CID where their options were much broader. In "Street Corner" we see a sincere attempt to realistically portray the work of women police in post - war London. A sort of distaff "Blue Lamp" minus the testerone. Miss Betty Box handles sensitive subjects with exreme skill, injecting much - needed humour from time to time. There is no attempt to ennoble these women,simply to record them as doing a difficult job as best they can. The spirit of the old - time Met is cleverly captured;this may not be e recruiting film but it won't have harmed recruitment. There is not an excess scene in the film. It is an exercise in how to make a straightforward effective and involving picture on a budget that wouldn't cover the frothy coffee bill for a modern tv cop show. Well -chosen exteriors give us a glimpse of a lost world that nobody under 50 will ever know once existed underneath our gentrified boroughs. A simpler world where everybody knew where they belonged - even the villains.
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A policewoman lot is not a happy one
malcolmgsw12 June 2017
Police films were becoming very popular in the fifties so Sydney and Muriel box decided on something different,concentrating on police women.In those days they had a separate women's police force.So the film concentrates on the experiences of women.So Eleanor Summerfield is an army deserter and botanist.Peggy Cummins is a shoplifters tied up with crook Terence Morgan.There are a few minor story lines.As the film comes to the boil Morgan batters a Pembroke,convincingly played by Charles Victor.This ends up in an exciting climax where Morgan runs through bomb sites.It is an interesting film for its views of Lonon in the early fifties and some of the stereotypical views of women of that era.
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Terence Morgan plays the "baddie" again
howardmorley24 March 2017
The previous reviewer had a summary of "Absorbing" in his critique and I agree.I watched it to the end and particularly praise the actresses mentioned by this user.Terence Morgan played again the boss of criminal robbers of jewellers who also assaults and batters a Nazi victim who owns "F.Muller" in the high road.It is also an indictment of social conditions in the UK in the early fifties after the war and the effect it had on ordinary people trying to get on with their lives.Of course the censor would not allow criminals to profit from their crimes in 1953 and morality must triumph in the final reel.
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"Cops in Skirts"!!
kidboots8 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Muriel Box was just about the only regular woman director in British movies in the 1950s and she earned her place the hard way - through being a continuity girl, a screenwriter and as co-producer . With "Street Corner" - it was conceived as an answer to "The Blue Lamp" and, again, using a documentary effect, highlighted the part played by women in the police force and if this movie is anything to go by, they sure had a long way to go before they were to be treated as being equal to the same assignments as men!! Anything to do with screaming babies and fractious children - send for a "cop in a skirt"!!!

Comprised of several vignettes as well as a "blue lamp" style plot line involving beautiful Peggy Cummins, as a young married mother (at 18 very young) who after being picked up on a shop lifting charge, finds her life going down the gurgler and longs for excitement!! Enter Terence Morgan as Ray, blind Freddie could tell he is up to no good, he is positively a bundle of nerves!! Soon Ray and Bridget (Cummins) are flitting from flat to flat and while "The Blue Lamp" culminated at a densely packed greyhound race, this finishes in a desperate chase across some London bomb sites!!

Among other story lines - there is an exciting opening in which a woman dives off a bridge to rescue a drowning child, she (Eleanor Summerfield) isn't a police woman but her story involves being AWOL from the Army and even bigamy!! If this was an American movie this story would be the "gag" one but in this tasteful film she is given sympathy and respect. Ronald Howard plays the husband she deserts for!!

Another story has to do with child neglect, with a thrilling scene as a brave WPC Susan (Anne Crawford) risks her life to save a small child who wanders onto a window ledge. Investigating the incident brings the young police woman into a world where children are seen as burdens but the movie offers no judgements - the police look at the people's lives, often working back breaking jobs to pay the rent of hovels and see that they are doing all in their power. Susan especially, who lost her husband and child in a car accident and sometimes feels compelled to give it all up and adopt one of the children that she sees all too regularly in a pretty depressing side of her job. Rosamund Johns is as usual excellent in her role as the overseeing Sergeant but stylish Barbara Murray shines in her role as the eager young cadet!!

Agree with another reviewer, it was fascinating to see how housing estates were originally designed to be modernistic and appealing but as "Violent Playground" showed only 6 years later, they soon became a hotbed for overcrowding and crime. A quite funny episode showing how hard the police tried to convince the public that they were on their side. A little boy wanders into the station with his best "lost and afraid" expression and after being showered with chocolates and cream buns an exasperated mother gives the desk sergeant a dressing down - "you police, when a kid gets hungry, he always knows he can pop into the local nick and get a good feed of lollies and sticky buns"!! lol Also Dora Bryan as a prostitute complaining she draws the line at being nicked by a "cop in skirts" as she has her self respect to think of!!

Highly Recommended
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Policewomen anthology
Leofwine_draca27 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
STREET CORNER is an interesting little British crime film of the early 1950s, not one of the most exciting out there but a film which nonetheless provides a fitting snapshot of a bygone era. Interestingly, the focus is on policewomen adapting to their newfangled role in society. A trio of stories are told, one involving a neglected baby, another about an army deserter, and the third about a gang of jewel thieves. It's the latter story which gets most screen time but which turns out to be more than a little over-stretched and lacklustre, with long sections where there's little going on. Terence Morgan has an early bad guy role of the type that would serve him so well for the next decade, and there are lots of familiar faces including two future LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE stars, Thora Hird and Brian Wilde.
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