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MoMA

FILM SCREENINGS

<i>Sparrers Can’t Sing (aka Sparrows Can’t Sing)</i>. 1963. Great Britain. Directed by Joan Littlewood
  • Sparrers Can’t Sing (aka Sparrows Can’t Sing)

    1963. Great Britain. Joan Littlewood. 94 min.

Monday, October 29, 2012, 6:00 p.m.

Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1



  • Sparrers Can’t Sing (aka Sparrows Can’t Sing)

    1963. Great Britain. Directed by Joan Littlewood. Screenplay by Stephen Lewis. With James Booth, Barbara Windsor, Roy Kinnear. A sailor’s search for his wife, after he returns home to find his flat demolished, provides the pretext for a tour of London’s East End. Pungent, breezy, and steeped in local color, a low-budget neo-realist comedy of working-class disorder and a key work in the development of British “kitchen sink” naturalism, Joan Littlewood’s all but plotless ensemble comedy began as a quasi-improvisation on Stephen Lewis’s text, developed and first performed at her Theatre Workshop in 1960 (the company that famously premiered Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children in London in 1955, and also produced Oh, What a Lovely War! and A Taste of Honey). The film brought the ensemble production on location amid the East End’s tarts, tradesmen, spivs, and drunks. The territory was new to the screen. The rhyming slang and heavily Cockney accents made the film unintelligible even for many Londoners. With its cast of brilliantly versatile and by-now familiar actors, including the wonderful Welsh actor Victor Spinetti, who died earlier this year, and a cameo by the notorious gangster twins The Krays, Sparrers is a true rediscovery. Archival print from The Museum of Modern Art; courtesy Rialto Pictures. 94 min.