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Fame is the Spur

Updated on September 21, 2018
ethel smith profile image

Eileen enjoys a variety of movies and likes to share reviews of those that impress her. She also loves British television comedy series.

The Movie

Cover of British pressbook for this movie
Cover of British pressbook for this movie | Source

The Main Charcters and Cast

Michael Redgrave
Hamer Radshaw
Bernard Miles
Tom Hannaway
Carla Lehmann
Lady Lettice
Rosamund John
Ann Radshaw
Lord Liskeard
David Tomlinson

The cast also includes Marjorie Fielding as Aunt Lizzie, Seymour Hicks as Old Buck, Tony Wager as Hamer as a boy, Brian Weske as Ryerson as a boy, Gerald Fox as Hannaway as a boy, Jean Shepeard as Mrs Radshaw, Guy Verney as Grandpa, Percy Walsh as Su

The Plot

The plot revolves around Hamer Radshaw, played by Michael Redgrave, and his life from a boy living in poverty to becoming a member of the House of Lords.

Hamer is raised in poverty in the back streets of Manchester which spurs on his political ambition which begins as a desire to be a force for good.

He inherits a sword passed down to him by his grandfather; a sword used against workers at the Battle of Peterloo. He keeps this sword as a symbol of his beliefs though he loses his ideals along the way.

Initially Radshaw vows to help the poverty stricken and downtrodden in British society becoming a member of the Labour Party and then a Member of Parliament.

The party is in its infancy and this movie not only follows Radshaw through his private and political life but the Labour Party as it eventually comes to power.

His wife Ann joins the campaign for Women’s suffrage. She becomes an activist, serving time in jail more than once and enduring the horror of force feeding while on hunger strike in prison but Hamer will not budge politically.

He abandons her to her fate. She is still his wife but he does nothing to secure her release from prison.

When she is finally released from jail she is a shadow of her former self with not long to live.

Various events such as the start of World War 1 are briefly covered but mainly from the perspective of the Labour party.

By now Radshaw is moving from his more socialist roots to the centre ground of British politics as he becomes part of the establishment.

By the end of the movie Hamer Radshaw is a Lord who has become part of the problem for workers rather than a solution.

He is Labour only in name. With age his radical views have been replaced with more Conservative ones. This for me has similarities to 21st Century British politics.

In the final scene Radshaw cannot draw his sword for its sheath.

This also offers a symbolic end to the story of Hamer Radshaw, thought to be loosely based on the life of Ramsay MacDonald.

The Peterloo Massacre is now the Subject of a Movie

What I liked about this Movie

This movie has a great cast. There are classic stars of the silver screen.

Filmed in black and white it will not appeal to all. For me however the black and white filming suited the plot and era.

There are many similarities with more recent political figures and events in the U.K. Some knowledge of British politics may enhance the viewing experience.

Movie Clip - Fame is the Spur

What I did not like about this Movie

The acting is perhaps a little tame for modern viewers.

Fame is the Spur glossed over women finally receiving the vote in Britain. As the Votes for Women Campaign featured in the plot with Mrs Radshaw heavily involved this seemed odd.

The General Strike of 1926 was ignored with events either side of it shown. As the plot features the Labour Party this too seemed odd.

But I guess the story is really about one man’s life and career.

Release details

This movie is based on a novel of the same name by Howard Spring

This black and white British film released in 1947 was aired this week on Talking Pictures Channel 81 in the U.K.

Released in the U.S.A. in 1949 Fame is the Spur received fairly negative reviews across the Pond.

This film was produced by John Boulting and directed by Roy Boulting for the production company Boulting Brothers in association with Two Cities Films.



My Rating

4 stars for Fame is the Spur

© 2018 Ethel Smith


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