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No Resting Place

Respected for his documentary films, Paul Rotha brought to his fiction debut No Resting Place the same hard, realist values that typified his earlier work on England’s shipyards. He adapted Ian Neill’s English-based novel to create a compelling if downbeat crime-and-retribution drama about travellers in Ireland and their treatment at the hands of the police when one of them accidentally kills a man in an argument. Alec Kyle (Michael Gough), his brothers Billy (Jack MacGowran) and Tom (Brian O’Higgins) and their families travel the roads by horse and cart, scraping a living as farm labourers along the way. Their wandering kind meets with constant hostility from settled folk who don’t want them around and prefer them to keep moving. Rotha’s film is an unflinching stare at the hardships faced by Ireland’s nomads. The travellers are presented not as quaint gypsies with charming customs and colourful costumes, but as poor illiterates with limited skills, struggling to make ends meet and with scant regard for the rules and regulations of a society that barely tolerates them.
U.K., 1951.
Black and white.
77 mins.

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