Few writers can give poverty such an air of adventure as Howard Spring, and in the Boulting Bros he found the right producer and director. It was not an easy matter to translate Spring’s workmanlike novel of a self-made politician to the screen, but the Boultings have done this with praiseworthy conscientiousness.
Having wisely discarded the flashback, the Boultings begin in 1870 when Hamer Radshaw, a lad in a north country slum, dedicates his life to better the lot of his fellow workers. The sword his grandfather picked up at Peterloo (1819), when soldiers cut down workers crying for ‘bread and liberty’, becomes his talisman and symbol.
Attractive, he becomes a grand rabble-rouser. With his sword he can incite men to their own death, all for the ’cause’, and as a Labour Member of Parliament he takes the line of least resistance, shedding old friends when necessary, making new ones if they can help, as long as it all leads to glory and power.
Michael Redgrave gives a grand performance as the earnest young idealist who becomes the vain selfish politician. It is a difficult part, but he makes it wholly credible.