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The Brave Don't Cry - Docu-drama from John Grierson

Wednesday, 6 October 2021  |  Admin

The Brave Don't Cry (1952), a reconstruction of the mining disaster at Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery Ayrshire in 1950, dramatises the tense events of the rescue of miners trapped underground after a pit shaft was flooded and nine men were lost.

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.

The 35 mm print shown in Venice is the very same print used for the high definition transfer Panamint Cinema commissioned for this release. The film was produced by John Grierson's company, Group 3 Films. Some of the scenes were filmed in Rosewall, Midlothian.

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.

Our DVD also includes two fascinating documentaries, giving a running time of almost 3 hours.

Documenting John Grierson (2014). Bill Paterson narrates the life and work of the documentary pioneer, shown on BBC2 Scotland. Features interviews with many he influenced, including Alfred Hitchcock.

The Terrible Price (2004), an independently produced documentary made by Martin Smith, was screened by BBC2 Wales, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Gresford mining disaster in which 266 miners lost their lives.