This film is part of Free
Elegiac sponsored film imploring viewers to "allow the sun to penetrate the haze of ignorance" and relieve British cities of pollution.
London's Great Smog of 1952, which claimed some 4,000 lives, would have still been fresh in the minds of viewers when this elegiac, heartfelt film was released two years later. Over images of black smoke billowing from city chimneys, the commentary solemnly outlines the cost of smoke pollution to the nation's health and economy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that the film was sponsored by the Gas Council, the answer turns out to be a simple - switch from coal to cleaner gas. The message may have happened to suit the sponsor, but it's logic was undeniable.
Underlying the desire to educate the nation about the evils of smoke pollution is the sponsor's intent to make better known the gas industry's services and its contribution to the national economy and welfare of the country. Two years after this film, Britain's first Clean Air Act (1956) was introduced, later extended by the Clean Air Acts of 1968 and 1993. Guilty Chimneys was issued on free loan by the Gas Council and screened widely in non-theatrical venues. The film was publicised in newspapers with advertisements festooned with grim cartoons and catchy slogans such as "Gas and coke, heat without smoke". See also The Smoke Menace (1937), available on BFI Player.
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Absorbing overview of coalmining in the early years of nationalisation.
Animation & Artists Moving Image 1964 2 mins
Miners' safety training - marked by stylish animation and gallows humour.
Advert 1935 42 mins Silent Location: Cardiff/Caerdydd
Coal, between the world wars, makes the industrialised world go round and Cory Bros & Co Ltd, with collieries in south Wales and oil refineries across the globe, is a major player.
Industry sponsored film 1978 7 mins Location: Blaenavon
Memories of Blaenavon Colliery, Monmouthshire, as it nears its end.
Advert 1975 1 mins
Deliriously kitsch recruitment ad for the implausibly glamorous world of coalmining.
Campaigning film 1984 32 mins
Young Socialists take the lead in the struggle against the "Tory dictatorship" led by Margaret Thatcher.
Action and Adventure 1923 28 mins Silent Location: Tilbury
Plotting world domination, Devil Doctor Fu-Manchu steals plans for a new aero-torpedo in this earliest surviving thrill-a-minute serial instalment.
Inside Film 2024 16 mins
Filmmakers Jane Giles and Ali Catterall discuss their documentary Scala!!!, revisiting the legendary and inspirational cinema venue and some of the most notorious films that screened there.
Drama 2023 2 mins
A group of young Black boys run into a building. One of them is about to do the unimaginable.
Romance 2023 2 mins
A queercore romance - a visceral and immersive exploration of the power of the mosh pit and finding love in the most unlikely of places.
Charity appeal 1939 10 mins
Long thought lost, this Powell-directed promotional short for a veteran’s charity was only rediscovered in 2003.
Documentary 1941 6 mins
A poignant, stirring letter from a recently deceased pilot to his mother is read by John Gielgud.