Movie Notes: An Inspector Calls

N and I watch a lot of TV series together but never any movies. So we decided to do something unusual and watch one.

An Inspector Calls is based on a play by JB Priestley, and Soviet people loved their Priestley. The play had actually premiered in the USSR several months before it did in London.

The movie (as well as the play) is set in 1912, and it’s the perfect portrayal of the relationship between the recently emerged institutions of the nation-state and industrial capitalism.

What’s really fun about the movie is imagining the modern-day version. The inspector is gone, and as the vicious capitalists abuse the working-class girl they lecture her about her racism, white supremacy, and transphobia. The viewers are tricked into identifying completely with the capitalists and cheering on the working-class girl’s suicide. The capitalists aren’t afraid of the press finding out. To the contrary, they make the story of their victimization by the indigent, desperate worker as public as possible, monetizing the likes and the retweets. Everybody celebrates the worker’s death which “like literally prevented a genocide.”

We enjoyed the movie but we are now desperate to re-watch the Soviet version where actors actually acted instead of just standing around. It’s so sad that the actors here are so impotent that the poor director had to cast as the evil capitalist a really ugly actor with a huge paunch and a gigantic nose. There’s simply no way to transmit the evilness of the character other than through appearance if an actor can’t do any acting.

One thought on “Movie Notes: An Inspector Calls

  1. Yes the film is very flat, I’m afraid it’s fairly typical of British cinema in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. ‘Overacting’ was discouraged to the point of dullness, even in war films of which there were plenty.
    The original play, which I’ve seen a couple of times, allows for better performances. Written in 1944, it was politically it was quite controversial when first produced in 1945 in the USSR! In the UK, it appeared the year after. The class system wasn’t talked about in polite (I.E. middle class) society, not were money, politics, sex, suicide, disability, race or anything much except sport, the neighbours and what colour curtains you wanted to buy as soon as rationing allowed it!
    Interestingly Alistair Sim who played the Inspector, was the cast member who went on to have the longest acting career and became best known for comedy roles, while Bryan Forbes became a brilliant film director. His best film I think is Whistle down the Wind, which was made only 6 years after An Inspector Calls, and is a whole different class of movie.
    Of course having said all of that, I’ve just googled it and realised the film was re-made in 2005 so you have probably seen that version, which I didn’t know existed! Sorry! I don’t recommend you look out the 1954 version, except possibly for research.


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