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Tinker U rating

A strikingly-filmed tale of a young tinker boy who finds his true calling on a mining apprenticeship scheme in Easington, County Durham.

Drama 1949 67 mins

Director: Herbert Marshall


This strikingly-photographed film, about a young boy overcoming disadvantage and prejudice, was hard to see in its own day and has been cruelly undervalued since. Shot entirely on location with a non-professional cast in the mining community of Easington, it also features scenes at the Durham Miners' Gala. The tinker of the title is an ill-educated young gypsy's son who impulsively enrols on a mining apprenticeship scheme and finds his true calling. The exciting chase climax features the best filmic use of a spoil conveyor outside of Get Carter.

Polymath director Herbert PJ Marshall (theatre director, writer, filmmaker, expert on Russian and East European drama and more besides) studied filmmaking in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, working alongside the likes of Sergei Eisenstein. With his wife, Fredda Brilliant, he had previously written the story for Ealing's Proud Valley (1940), a stirring tale of Welsh miners with a powerfully socialist message that was substantially diluted when Britain entered the war as production began. Marshall's political leanings helps explain why Tinker was little shown on its release.