This film is part of Free


Lifeboats to the rescue at Shoreham, West Sussex.

Charity appeal 1947 6 mins


Shoreham-by-Sea is the setting for this brisk, engaging Royal National Lifeboat Institution promo. ‘Introduced’ by an RNLI superintendent, the film explains the need for continuous maintenance of lifeboats. It includes dramatically constructed incidents using local people, lifeboat men – and boats – as the ‘actors’. The censor certificate indicates that the film, ending with a fundraising appeal, was intended for cinema distribution.

This modest but effective short was one of the last productions of Films of Fact, renowned documentary maker Paul Rotha’s production company, before going bust. It was clearly made on a low budget, particularly noticeable in the sound dubbing. But look out for some eye-opening tour-de-force camera movements. The film’s other significance is that it allowed its young director Paul Dickson to take a step towards drama-documentary, the form he would master in his outstanding short films The Undefeated (1950) and David (1951, also on BFI Player).