This film is part of Free

Not So Much a Facelift...

An enjoyably odd public information film shot on the streets of Blackburn, Norwich and Oxford.

Documentary 1976 25 mins


This enjoyably oddball public information film features good location footage from Blackburn, Norwich and Oxford. A dry, if important, subject (local government policies for making small improvements to urban areas) is presented in rather eccentric style. 'Fly-on-the-wall' scenes are unconvincing, and the use of folk singing unintentionally hilarious - but rather beautifully cut to the images.

There’s method in the madness: the charming, homespun patchwork feel of the film suggests a humility and sense of human scale in the new policy of General Improvement Areas, compared to the comprehensive redevelopment that dominated post-war town planning. The film was mainly screened in meetings between council planners, architects and residents. Despite (or because) of its sillier trappings, it exudes a truly likeable decency, making it an honourable minor entry in the civic-minded tradition of films like the documentary classic Housing Problems (1935). 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.