This film is part of Free

The Diamond

A gem-smuggling conspiracy drives an entertaining and unusually accomplished amateur fiction.

Amateur film 1938 14 mins Silent


Kenneth and Vernon Hunter were no run-of-the-mill amateur filmmakers. On the strength of The Diamond, the brothers had not just a sense of fun but a real grasp of cinema. Shot on 16mm with a cast of family and friends, this pulpy gem-smuggling thriller is a zesty genre flick not so far away from the 'quota quickies' churned out by 30s studios (though its roots are in 20s silent films). At the same time, it has a joyful intimacy (including hints of private jokes) that's uniquely amateur.

As well as some surprisingly sophisticated editing, the film features some smart use of locations around Richmond and Kew and some sparing but convincing set design for the car interiors. This is not just an entertaining yarn; it captures a particularly warm moment in a family's life - before war and grief intervened. Sadly, the Hunters' follow-up, Fight for Freedom, was interrupted by the outbreak of WWII. After Vernon's death in the 1940s, Kenneth made several amateur documentaries. Youngest sister Phyllis, meanwhile, enjoyed some time on the stage.