Basil Dearden: Liberal Tensions

Forming a partnership with producer Michael Relph, Basil Dearden was a key figure in British cinema of the 1950s and 1960s with a number of politically engaged films exploring key social issues of the time, such as race, sexuality, and the continuing reverberations of the Second World War. With this mini-season we explore Dearden’s contributions to British cinema.

The Ship that Died of Shame

Basil Dearden | UK | 1955 | 95 minutes

Three veterans of the Second World War smuggle black market items into the UK. Only providing a service in a victimless crime way initially, they soon become involved with more sinister cargoes.

Violent Playground

Basil Dearden | UK | 1958 | 108 minutes

A social worker (Stanley Baker) tries to set a young pyromaniac (David McCallum) back on the straight and narrow.


Basil Dearden | UK | 1959 | 92 minutes

A pregnant girl, initially assumed to be white, is murdered. As two detectives start to investigate, and discover her racial origins were much more mixed, public prejudices and those of the officers themselves are exposed. Dearden has earlier explored race issues with Pool of London (1950).

The League of Gentlemen

Basil Dearden | UK | 1960 | 116 minutes

A disgruntled war veteran recruits a number of ex services colleagues to stage a bank robbery with military precision.

All Night Long

Basil Dearden | UK | 1962 | 91 minutes

A transposition of Shakespeare’s Othello to the jazz nightclubs of London, showcasing some of the leading jazz musicians of the time including Dave Brubeck and Charlie Mingus.

The Mind Benders

Basil Dearden | UK | 1963 | 109 minutes

A British scientist is discovered to have been passing information to the Communists, then kills himself. Another scientist decides that they might have brainwashed him by a sensory deprivation technique, but he doesn’t know if someone really can be convinced to act against their strongest feelings. So he agrees to be the subject in an experiment in which others will try to make him stop loving his wife. Stars Dirk Bogarde and Mary Ure.