South Riding


1h 25m 1938

Brief Synopsis

"Winifred Holtby realised that Local Government is not a dry affair of meetings and memoranda:- but 'the front-line defence thrown up by humanity against its common enemies of sickness, poverty and ignorance.' She built her story around six people working for a typical County Council:- Beneath the lives of the public servants runs the thread of their personal drama. Our story tells how a public life affects the private life; and how a man's personal sufferings make him what he is in public. " Corruption, intrigue and romance in a Yorkshire setting. A country squire whose wife is in a mental hospital becomes attracted to a crusading local schoolmistress.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1, 1938
Premiere Information
London opening: week of 10 Jan 1938
Production Company
London Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel South Riding by Winifred Holtby (London, 1936).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Yorkshire alderman Snaith is an unscrupulous land developer who uses the reforming ways of fellow councilman Astell for his own profit. Astell seeks, with Snaith's assistance, to abolish the slums of Yorkshire with new housing. In those slums lives the Holly family. Mr. Holly, long unemployed, finally gets a job with Snaith's construction firm, working with Alfred Huggins, his foreman and the local preacher. Just as they finish some new pavement, it is ruined by the local hunting club, lead by Robert Carne, the squire of Maythrope. Carne is the victim of a marriage that has been destroyed by his wife's insanity. He hopes to send his nervous daughter Midge to a fashionable private school, but his wife's hospital bills have become too much for his income. Carne decides to sell his favorite hunting horse to fund Midge's education, but the construction sounds lead the horse to bolt, then break its leg. At a council meeting, Sarah Barton is hired as the new headmistress for the Kiplington High School. The council is unanimous in its choice of Sarah, except for Carne, whose horse was frightened by her car the day before. Carne is forced to send Midge to Kiplington, where she quickly becomes Sarah's favorite student. Meanwhile, Huggins is blackmailed by Bessie Warbuckle, who has borne him an illegitimate child. Huggins gets the blackmail money from Snaith, who then uses Huggins as a blind purchaser to buy the property for Astell's new housing project. Late at night, Sarah helps Carne deliver a calf. He invites her back to Maythrope for dinner, and the two quickly fall in love. Carne tells her, however, that their love is impossible, as he must be faithful to his wife, no matter what her condition. Bessie marries, but continues to blackmail Huggins. Sarah then learns of Huggins' plight and his association with Snaith in the land purchases. She rushes to Maythrope to tell Carne, but he is not there, because he has decided to commit suicide. Sarah finds him in the nearby woods, and stops him just as he is about to kill himself. The two rush back to the council meeting, where Carne forces Huggins to confess everything. With Snaith's crooked scheme exposed, Carne offers to turn Maythrope into the new high school. He then learns that his wife has died in the mental hospital, finally freeing him to find true happiness in marriage to Sarah.

Film Details

Release Date
Jul 1, 1938
Premiere Information
London opening: week of 10 Jan 1938
Production Company
London Film Productions, Ltd.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel South Riding by Winifred Holtby (London, 1936).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Ralph Richardson was given a "Best Acting" award by the National Board of Review for his work in both this film and The Citadel (see appendex). According to New York Times, Glynis Johns was cast in the film The Invaders based on director/producer Michael Powell's impression of her from this film, which was her first motion picture. Modern sources include Special Effects Lawrence Butler and Edward Cohen and Production Manager Dora Wright in the production; and include Skelton Knaggs (Reg Aythorne), Laura Smithson (Mrs. Brimsley) and Florence Grosson (Mrs. Malton) in the cast.