VIDEO: Old Hill Inn, Yorkshire, 1979

The 50-minute 1979 doc­u­men­tary film Under­ground Eiger is pri­mar­i­ly about cav­ing but there is a won­der­ful two-minute sequence which begins at 23:49 filmed at The Old Hill Inn in the York­shire Dales.

It’s a par­ty rather than a typ­i­cal night at the pub but nonethe­less gives a won­der­ful sense of atmos­phere, and is cer­tain­ly a great anti­dote to that grim stereo­typ­i­cal ‘York­shire’ pub por­trayed in An Amer­i­can Were­wolf in Lon­don.

You can find more infor­ma­tion on the film and watch what might be a high­er qual­i­ty copy at the BFI web­site.

We were sent this link by Robin Old­field – thanks, Robin!

VIDEO: Advice for Americans on English Pubs, 1943

We were alerted to the presence of this film on YouTube by Anthony Harper (@anthonymharper) and it’s a corker.

It was made as a joint pro­duc­tion of the US and UK gov­ern­ments and was intend­ed, in short, to pre­vent Amer­i­can sol­diers act­ing like dick­heads in Britain. The host is Burgess Mered­ith (Bat­manRocky) and he spends the first third of the film – about ten min­utes – in an Eng­lish coun­try pub:

We’re not try­ing to show you the per­fect way to behave in a pub. We’re only try­ing to point out that some of these peo­ple are a lit­tle more reserved than some of us. If you take it easy a lit­tle bit, just at the begin­ning… you’ll make some damn good friends.

It’s staged with the inte­ri­or filmed on a stu­dio set but, as it’s intend­ed to be edu­ca­tion­al rather than pro­pa­gan­da, we can prob­a­bly assume it’s a fair­ly accu­rate por­tray­al. In fact, the advice is still good, on the whole:

What’s that? What’s the dif­fer­ence between bit­ter and mild? I don’t know. One’s bit­ter and one’s mild. You’d bet­ter find out for your­self…

The Short Pub Documentary – A New Artform?

Pub culture lends itself to film-making thanks to its quirks, eye-catching details, and characters.

We’ve been pick­ing up the odd video here and there over the years but had­n’t checked Vimeo for a while. We were lured there this time try­ing to answer a ques­tion about seafood hawk­ers in pubs which turned up this gem direct­ed by Matthew Daunt:

Then, fol­low­ing the bread­crumbs, we found this recent por­trait of the Steve, land­lord of Ye Olde Vic in Stock­port:

(Of his fists: ‘Let me just tell you that they’re only rest­ing, not retired.’)

This next film, The Reg­u­lars, by Grant Hod­geon, is actu­al­ly eight years old but it’s the first time we’ve come across it. It’s an eccen­tric piece in some ways, switch­ing styles, stop­ping and start­ing, but there’s no deny­ing the charm of the raw footage:

And, final­ly, anoth­er Stock­port pub (is every­one there a doc­u­men­tar­i­an?) filmed by Jake Park­er in 2013:

You can real­ly smell the booze and the sticky car­pets in that one, can’t you?

The sim­i­lar­i­ty in tone of these films and oth­ers – wist­ful, slight­ly sad – says some­thing about how the pub is viewed in 21st Cen­tu­ry Britain. We sup­pose it’s because it feels frag­ile or endan­gered as an insti­tu­tion that peo­ple feel moti­vat­ed to doc­u­ment it, while they still can.

Is it a new art­form? The exis­tence of Peter Davis’s 1962 film Pub, avail­able on the BFI DVD of Lon­don in the Raw, would sug­gest not.

MUSIC: Pub Crawling Blues

We were tipped off to this by a documentary about British blues music Lenny Henry made for Sky Arts.

It’s from a 1969 LP called Black Lon­don Blues which is pret­ty great from start to fin­ish and is avail­able on Spo­ti­fy, iTunes, and to buy on CD.

And, yes, that is Ram John Hold­er as in Pork Pie from the 1990s sit­com Desmond’s, who turns out to be a very inter­est­ing bloke.

I had ten pints of bit­ter at the vol­un­teer of Glouces­ter Place.
I’m pub crawl­ing… I’m the Ram.
I’m pub crawl­ing… I’m your man.