This film is part of Free

The Death of Poor Joe

A scene from Bleak House is the first ever screen adaptation of Charles Dickens

Drama 1900 1 mins Silent


This tragic short film is based on the stage production of Poor Jo the Crossing Sweeper, which itself adapted one of the most affecting stories in Dickens' epic novel Bleak House. This short film is very much an adaptation of the stage version, in which a follow-spot recreated the night watchman's lamp. As Joe dies, never having been taught to pray, the light also represents the redemptive light of heaven.

The character of Joe was popularised in the 19th century by actress Jennie Lee, who toured her performance around Europe and the USA. Here Joe is played by Laura Bayley and the Night-watchman by Tom Green. Both actors were regular collaborators with the Brighton-based filmmaker GA Smith (Bayley was his wife).