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Life in Her Hands

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Life in Her Hands

Kathleen Byron - of Black Narcissus fame - stars in one of the most ambitious recruitment films ever made.

Instructional film/TV programme 1951 55 mins

Overview

Your NHS Needs You. Specifically, if you're a woman you, yes you, should consider joining the nursing ranks. Even if (gasp) you're already in your mid-twenties. Enter Kathleen Byron, a great character actress best known for her role as an unhinged nun in Black Narcissus (1946). Byron’s the star of this amazingly ambitious recruitment film, an hour-long drama by the government's Crown Film Unit, distributed to cinemas as a 'B' feature film. Its target demographic in mind, it’s pitched as very much a 'women's picture'. Never far from soap suds, that's actually what makes it impressive. It has a real narrative arc, revealing that nursing's no picnic. A vocation demanding commitment, profoundly rewarding but not without cost. Enter with your eyes open.

No ordinary recruitment film, then. And then there's its sheer scale - and expense. The Crown Film Unit was controversially closed – largely on cost grounds – the year after this production, with the Central Office of Information thereafter commissioning independent production companies rather than in-house filmmakers.