Fifty years on, it's hard to appreciate just how shocking one key scene in The Blue Lamp was considered by British audiences. Young delinquent Tom Riley (played with sensuous malevolence by Dirk Bogarde) guns down kindly, benevolent copper, PC Dixon (Jack Warner.) In early 1950s Britain, murdering a policeman was the ultimate taboo. Even the underworld's denizens help the police flush Riley out.
Made by Ealing Studios, The Blue Lamp is not a comedy but shares many of the studio's characteristic comic hallmarks, as well as the same writer (TEB Clarke) for their classics Hue And Cry and The Lavender Hill Mob. Consensus and tolerance are the watchwords. Individualism is frowned upon. There are no extravagant displays of emotion, not even from Mrs Dixon (Gladys Henson) when she learns what happened to her husband.
The understatement is very moving, although by today's standards the representation of the police seems absurdly idealised. Were they ever the doughty, patient sorts depicted here? It is no surprise to learn that Scotland Yard co-operated in the making of the film but this is much more than just police propaganda. Well-crafted, full of finely judged character performances, it ranks with Ealing's best work. It was made at an intriguing historical moment: before rock and roll and the era of teenage affluence, there was simply no place for young tearaways like Tom Riley. --Geoffrey Macnab --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- New Locations Featurette with Film Historian Richard Dacre
- London Locations Stills Gallery
- Production Stills Gallery
- BBC Radio 3 The Essay: British Cinema of the 1940s - The Blue Lamp audio featurette
- Exslusive Audio Commentary Featuring Jan Read & Academic Charles Barr