This film is part of Free

Furnival and Son

Super location footage enlivens this drama-documentary on Sheffield's steel industry.

Government sponsored film 1948 19 mins


Returning to his native Sheffield, demobbed serviceman Sandy faces a dilemma... This steel industry drama-doc is laced with super location shots, but is mainly shot in a studio (with sound added later: Sandy's would-be 'Yorkshire' accent must be heard to be disbelieved...). This government sponsored short is ultimately less a documentary or drama than a parable of the recovering post-war economy.

Dodgy voiceovers aside, Furnival and Son is enjoyably cinematic - especially the shadowy camerawork and Elisabeth Lutyens' brooding score (with suitably brass-heavy themes). During the war the government's Crown Film Unit had developed 'story-documentary' as an effective medium for information and persuasion. Updated to peacetime, it's as much concerned with conflicted individuals as with group dynamics. Here the classical story arc first raises then resolves topical dilemmas: mass production contrasted with family-firm craftsmanship, the carrot of American investment meeting the stick of productivity pressures. The film's tribute to the 'smoke, dirt and hard work' of proud cities like Sheffield feels a tad patronising yet basically sincere for all that. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.