Watch They Came to a City
- 1 hr 18 min
They Came to a City is a British drama film from 1944, directed by Basil Dearden and produced by Michael Balcon. The movie is based on the play of the same name by J.B. Priestley. The film stars John Clements, Googie Withers, Raymond Huntley, and Renee Gadd. The film revolves around a group of strangers who mysteriously find themselves in a city without any prior knowledge of how they got there. They soon realise that they have come to a city of their dreams, a place where no one is exploited or oppressed. There is no poverty or homelessness, and everyone has equal opportunities. The protagonist, Phillipa Jackson (played by Renee Gadd), is a young working-class girl who has come to the city with hopes to escape the drudgery of her life. She is soon joined by other characters like Joe Dinmore (played by John Clements), a capitalist businessman, and Mrs. Batley (played by Mabel Terry-Lewis), an elderly woman.
As the story progresses, the characters start exploring the city and its marvels. However, their joy is short-lived as they soon realise that the city is not all that it seems to be. They are confronted by the city's founder, Mr. R.M. Hartley (played by Raymond Huntley), who explains to them that the city is a social experiment designed to test the limits of their humanity. The characters are faced with a choice of whether to stay in the city or return to their lives before they arrived there.
The film is a depiction of Priestley's vision of a socialist utopia, where everyone is equal and there is no exploitation. The story is told in a surrealistic manner, with elements of fantasy and magical realism, which sets it apart from the typical dramas of the time. The film also explores the themes of identity, class struggle, and the human condition.
One of the striking things about the film is its visual style. The film is shot in a studio, with the city depicted using elaborate set designs, which gives it a dreamlike quality. The costumes and props add to the overall effect, with the characters' attire reflecting their personality and social status.
The film's cast is another highlight, with standout performances from John Clements and Googie Withers. Clements' performance as Joe Dinmore, the capitalist businessman, was particularly impressive, as he portrayed the character's conflict between his capitalist values and his humanity. Withers, on the other hand, brought her trademark intensity to her role as Alice Foster, a cynical city dweller who is disillusioned with the city's social experiment.
Overall, They Came to a City is a film that explores complex themes, such as class struggle and the human condition, in a surreal, dreamlike manner. Despite being over 70 years old, the film's message remains relevant, as society continues to grapple with issues of inequality and exploitation.
They Came to a City is a 1945 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 18 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.2.