Group 3 Films and John Grierson

In 1951, documentary filmmaker John Grierson established Group 3 films, supported by the National Film Finance Corporation (NFFC), which later helped to launch the careers of Ridley Scott and David Puttman. Group 3 was short-lived, making more than 20 films, but suffered from poor distribution as the major distributors were reluctant to handle publicly-funded films, and was active only until 1955, by which time it has amassed losses of £500,000.

Group 3's first film was Judgement Deferred, featuring Joan Collins, in only her third film. Group 3's catalogue also included films featuring Diane Cilento, Kenneth More (Brandy for the Parson), Arthur Askey, and Margaret Rutherford in Miss Robin Hood.

Two of the films, Laxdale Hall and The Brave Don't Cry were set in Scotland.

Laxdale Hall, from the 1951 novel by Eric Linklater, concerns the few residents of Laxdale who own cars refusing to pay their road fund licence because of the poor state of the only road which links them to the rest of Scotland. A parliamentary delegation including Samuel Pettigrew, M.P. (Raymond Huntley) and Andrew Flett (Fulton Mackay) is dispatched to the Scottish Highlands to quell the rebellion! The film also features Prunella Scales, Andrew Keir and Rikki Fulton in early roles. The script had initially been offered to Ealing Films, but turned down due to so many commitments to other film projects.

The Brave Don't Cry is a dramatised reconstruction of a mining disaster at Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery, Ayrshire in 1950. Made in 1952, the film dramatises the tense events of the rescue of miners trapped underground after a pit shaft was flooded and nine men were lost. Much of the film was phootgraphed in Rosewell, a former mining village in Midlothian. 11 miles from Edinburgh.

In September 1950, the walls of Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery cave in under a sudden surge of water, trapping 118 men underground. The only escape route is through a series of abandoned tunnels filled with toxic gas. Without enough time to pump out the gas, a dangerous rescue plan is formed by mine inspector John Cameron (John Gregson) and miner's wife Margaret Wishart (Meg Buchanan). With limited breathing equipment on hand, the miners must make their way up to the surface three at a time. The film features actors from the Glasgow Citizen's Theatre. Originally to be titled What God Forgot, it was premiered under its new title at the Edinburgh Film Festival in August 1952, and also shown at the Venice Film Festival that year.

For those of us of a certain age, The Brave Don't Cry is also a fascinating look at young actors who were later to become prominent on film, television and stage. They include Andrew Keir (Quatermass, Adam Smith), Russell Hunter ("Lonely" in Callan), Jean Anderson (The Brothers, Tenko), Fulton Mackay (Porridge, Laxdale Hall), Eric Woodburn ("Dr Snoddie" in Dr Finlay's Casebook), Jamieson Clark (Reporting Scotland, 39 Steps), Russell Waters, and the ubiquitous Sam Kydd.

Panamint Cinema's DVD also includes Documenting John Grierson, in which Bill Paterson narrates the Hopscotch Films production of the life and work of the documentary pioneer, shown on BBC2 Scotland. Features interviews with many he influenced, including Alfred Hitchcock. Also included is The Terrible Price. An independently produced documentary made by Martin Smith, screened by BBC2 Wales, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Gresford mining disaster in which 266 miners lost their lives.

We now have fewer than 100 copies left, so please buy now while we still have stocks.

Both of these titles, and many more, are now available at only £12.99.