The rain that sheets down in nearly every scene of Robert Hamer's masterful It Always Rains on Sunday is as much a psychological phenomenon as a meteorological one—a bleak, bone-chilling damp born from the bombed-out dreams and desires of a dozen or so characters during a single 24-hour period in postwar London. Based on a novel by Arthur La Bern, the film begins as the story of a former barmaid, Rose Sandigate (Googie Withers), who offers safe haven to her former lover, the escaped felon Tommy Swann (John McCallum). But with that desperate situation as its emotional and narrative core, It Always Rains on Sunday fans out into a sprawling, Altmanesque tapestry of East End life that encompasses the barmaid's comely stepdaughter Vi (Susan Shaw); Vi's occasional lover, Morry (Sydney Tafler); his gangster brother, Lou (John Slater), who has eyes for Vi's sister, Doris (Patricia Plunkett); and the flat-footed detective, Fothergill (Jack Warner), who's close on Swann's trail. Compacted into a breathless 92 minutes, the entire film exists in a state of high anxiety—not a frame is wasted. Finally, day gives way to night, the despair thickens, and all points converge on a fever-dream train-yard finale of long shadows, deep focus, billowing smoke, and rear projection.
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