The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

Momma Don't Allow
Momma Don't Allow

Momma Don't Allow 1956


This film is certified

Please confirm that you accept our terms of use.


Momma Don't Allow 1956 U

22 mins United Kingdom Director. Karel Reisz, Tony Richardson

This lively Free Cinema short captures a night out at the Wood Green Jazz Club, where teenagers jive to trad jazz. Funded by the BFI Experimental Film Fund, it was filmed over the course of nine Saturdays by Karel Reisz, then programmer of the National Film Theatre, and a young BBC television director called Tony Richardson.

Both were key protagonists in the development of the Free Cinema documentary movement and then, as feature film directors, the British New Wave. Free Cinema films shared a low-budget, naturalistic aesthetic thanks to handheld cameras and non-synchronised sound – usually without narration – and a focus on ordinary, often working-class subjects.

Momma Don’t Allow exudes warmth and is sympathetic to its working-class characters, contrasting the relaxed, confident working-class ‘Teddy Boys’ and their girlfriends with the more awkward ‘toffs’, whose arrival threatens to change the mood of the evening.

Directed by

Karel Reisz

Tony Richardson


The Chris Barber Band








United Kingdom



Read lessRead more
Part of

1,000s of beautifully preserved films, capturing 120 years of Britain on Film

The map

Explore further

View O Dreamland
O Dreamland
Watch for free 13 mins

O Dreamland 1953

Lindsay Anderson’s ground-breaking short film about a Margate amusement park, which helped to launch a new documentary movement.

13 mins United Kingdom Director. Lindsay Anderson

View Nice Time
Nice Time
Watch for free 16 mins

Nice Time 1957 U

The swirling neon frenzy of Piccadilly Circus is perfectly captured in this innovative short; a bewildering collage of image and sound.

16 mins United Kingdom Director. Claude Goretta, Alain Tanner

View We Are the Lambeth Boys
We Are the Lambeth Boys
Watch for free

We Are the Lambeth Boys 1959

Karel Reisz’s honest depiction of South London teens aimed to challenge the media perception of ‘Teddy Boys’.

United Kingdom Director. Karel Reisz


View All

Welcome to a new subscription service like no other.

>100s of hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films

>Critic Mark Kermode picks a must-see film every week

>No contract, cancel anytime

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts

Never ask | Ask me later