The Emergence of an Artist

  • Robert F. Moss


Writing in 1968, Pauline Kael observed that Carol Reed was only thirty-three when he made The Stars Look Down, and ‘he had not yet acquired the technical virtuosity of his later style, but this straightforward film may just possibly be his best’.1 Whether or not we can agree with this bold assessment, The Stars Look Down is certainly Reed’s first major film and an important cornerstone of his career. Appearing at the end of a decade of social protest, it succeeded in applying the technique and social concerns of the documentary to the feature film, which, in England, had not been much of a receptacle for political themes in the past. Reed, who was soon to make some outstanding documentaries himself, appears to have learned much from works like Grierson’s Industrial Britain (1933), Alberto Cavalcanti’s Coalface (1936) and Paul Rotha’s The Face of Britain (1939), and the lessons are reflected in Stars. An adaptation of A. J. Cronin’s 1935 novel of the same name, Stars required an expensive production that, apart from Korda’s opuses, was uncommon in England at the time. Isidore Goldsmith, an independent producer, was able to raise the then-enormous sum of £100 000, and the project went forward under the aegis of Grafton, a small production company.


Social Protest Film Culture British Film Foreign Correspondent Major Film 
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Copyright information

© Robert F. Moss 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert F. Moss

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