Once a Jolly Swagman

Wessex Film Productions

Romance Drama
100 min     5.5     1949     United Kingdom


A factory worke quits his job to become a motorcycle racer.


CinemaSerf wrote:
Aside from the odd rendition of "Waltzing Matilda" - I am unsure as to the reason for the title, but don't be put off - it's about speedway not swag (or sheep). Dirk Bogarde is at his most alluring as "Bill", a man who gets laid off from his job testing lightbulbs and who takes up the sport of dirt-track speedway. Discovering he has a bit of a penchant for it, he is soon earning £90-a week and but for the intervention of WWII could have been a true champion. After the war, though, his wife "Pat" (Renée Asherson) gives him an ultimatum despite him struggling to get so much as a milk round to make ends meet. Which path will he choose? It's got a strong supporting cast this - James Hayter, Moira Lister, Bill Owen, Sid James, Thora Hird and Bonar Colleano - and there is just enough race action to give us an indication that this was an hugely popular, and pretty dangerous sport that saw crowds of tens of thousands turn up in the hope of some excitement. The romantic shenanigans clutter it up a bit, especially his "Lister" period, but it's predominately quite a well made, fast moving, drama that touches subtly on the lack of opportunities for many a soldier after demobilisation.