Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Groundwork For Progress (1959)

Director: Bill Mason
Photography: Ron Bicker
Editor: Cynthia Barkley
Music: David Wooldridge
Commentary: Bill Mason
Narration: Anthony Marsh, Arthur Bush
Producer: Stewart McAllister

Review in Monthly Film Bulletin - March 1960
(Joint review of 
Fully Fitted FreightGroundwork for Progress and A Future on Rail)
These three new British Transport documentaries indicate the current determination of many writers and directors, working on subjects somewhat lacking in immediate appeal, to humanise such topics by concentrating on the people behind the work rather than the job itself. But while all three suggest the problem posed by such an approach, none of them get very far towards a solution.
Groundwork for Progress is a straightforward survey of the preparatory work involved in laying new lines, with some impressive sequences showing the deliberate buckling in a laboratory of what looks like a hundred yards of railway line, and the scientific testing of strain and movement on different sections of a bridge. Each man shown is named, and the commentary is frequently left to the worker concerned with each operation. But the effect is merely to increase the film's choppiness.

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