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Film: “Turn the Key Softly”
December 8, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
UK | 1953 | 35mm | 81 min.
This simple, melancholy picture is about three women who get out of Holloway Prison on the same day in rainy, somber London: Monica (Yvonne Mitchell) landed in jail because of her low-life thief of a boyfriend, Stella (Joan Collins) is a prostitute hoping for a better life, and Granny (Kathleen Harrison) is an elderly woman with a weakness for shoplifting. Were it made a few years later, Turn the Key Softly might have been impossibly grim. Instead it’s a film as delicate and honest as any Powell and Pressburger production, made right before England’s cycle of Angry Young Man films turned the industry into something much more dark and hopeless. The gorgeous inner city location photography—from cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, better known for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey—is reason enough to come, but it also balances lives of poverty, loneliness, old age, and occasional optimism and hope in a way that feels very tangible without being excessive or clichéd.