Summary of Discussion on Love on the Dole

Posted by Sarah

Unfortunately we only had time for a brief discussion, but if anyone would like to add their thoughts do log in and comment, or email me on

It was noted that a melodramatic plot certainly formed the core of the film. The main female character Sally Hardcastle (played by Deborah Kerr) suffered losing her fiancé, Larry. In addition she was forced to become a rich man’s mistress in order to save her family.

However the film did not only focus on Sally – even on her romance. Much time was given to portraying her immediate family (father, mother and brother Harry and his love life), and more surprisingly to the local gossipy women.

Due to this, the sense of melodrama was not constant throughout, with the melodramatic ‘action’ picking up towards the end with Larry’s death at the protest and Sally’s subsequent decision to sacrifice herself for her family. The film’s concern with the wider social issues of politics, the working man, the place of women etc added to the sense that the melodrama was diffuse. Arguably collective working class suffering was depicted. Since melodrama is often about the bourgeois and the individual (as we saw in the 1940 UK version of Gaslight) this appeal to social realism sat rather awkwardly.

The use of music was also discussed, with the evident difference between the city and country interludes commented upon.

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