This film is part of Free

Job for Johnny

Making plans for Johnny, who has a future in British steel - or so says this fascinating recruitment film.

Documentary 1950 20 mins Silent


Making plans for Johnny... "All he's interested in is motor bikes," but our hero has a future in British steel. This interesting recruitment film takes the form of a drama shot on location in steel town Scunthorpe, using non-actors to play teenaged apprentice Johnny and his family, friends and workmates. It was made for the trade body the British Iron and Steel Federation, which commissioned some 50 films.

Producers Greenpark Productions specialised in sponsored films with a veneer of fey artiness: note the snatches of stylised lighting and dramatic compositions, serving no narrative purpose. The result is disjointed, with atmospheric images but banal, unconvincing dialogue and a 'stage northern' narrator. But as a document of postwar change, it's fascinating. Johnny equals a brand new demographic: the teenager. Although it's hardly Rebel Without a Cause, the script touches on Johnny's inner conflicts as he ponders his future and the conflicting views of elders and peers. Then in the key scene he meets a works careers adviser, effectively addressing the young men in the film's target audience. Johnny's future is as good as sealed...