Fanny Hawthorn (Brody) works in a cotton mill in Hindle, Lancashire and lives with her mother and father (Ault and Wright). During the annual vacation week (known as “Wake’s Week), she and her best friend Mary (Carlisle) travel by train to Blackpool to enjoy the sea air, amusement park and dancehalls. There she carries on a flirtation with Allan Jeffcote (Stuart), the wealthy son of the mill owner (McKinnel). She and Allan leave Blackpool and spend several days together in Wales. When her deception is discovered by her parents, they insist that Allan marry her. But Fanny is a modern woman and has ideas of her own.
This overlooked masterpiece of British silent filmmaking was adapted from the controversial stage play of 1912 by Stanley Houghton. Indeed, even today its prescient message about female sexual desire packs a punch and was ahead of its time by decades. Director Elvey shot much of the action on location in Manchester and Blackpool, which lends the film a realism that was rare for the time. Point-of-view camera shots on a rollercoaster are breathtaking (especially given the size and weight of cameras back then); a scene inside a dancehall entrances. The British band “In The Nursery” added a new percussive soundtrack in 2000 which complements the action. In all, “Hindle Wakes” stands as a towering early achievement in British film.