Director – Unknown – 1948 – UK – Cert. U – 19m
On the new Tokyo Story Blu-ray from Monday, June 15th
and available to view for free on BFI Player
Voice-overs from a father, a mother and their son detail their different feelings and positions about their small family cutlery manufacturing business in post-war Sheffield. George Furnival’s factory employs some 30 people and he wants his son Sandy, a demobbed serviceman returning to the city, to help him run the firm and bring in some fresh ideas.
Sandy however, isn’t so sure. Travelling up by train, he can’t get out of his head the letter he’d received from larger Sheffield company Turnbulls offering him a job. The family firm is struggling while Turnbulls are doing really well and Sandy feels this is an opportunity not to be missed.
His mum senses this tension when he visits. Over the next few days, Sandy wanders around catching up with old friends and sees how various branches of the steel industry are doing. Eventually, he is joined by his friend Alice. George is agonising whether to accept a big order from a potential US customer as he’s not sure if the company can fulfil it. After reflection, Sandy agrees to pitch in with the family firm and tells his dad to accept the order.
Made by the Board of Trade for the Central Office of Information under the Crown Film Unit, this not only holds the attention but has lots of compelling period footage which sheds light on Sheffield and its steel industry in the form of numerous enterprises big and small at this time. The efficient narrative conveys some of the joys, heartbreaks and challenges of running a small business. The film works well enough in the service of all this: you come away feeling you know quite a bit more abut the industrial history of Sheffield than you did when you went in.
Furnival And Son is on the new Tokyo Story Blu-ray in the UK on Monday, June 15th.
It’s also available to view for free on BFI Player.