Background (1953 film)

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Original British quad poster
Directed by Daniel Birt
Produced by Herbert Mason
Written by Warren Chetham-Strode
Don Sharp
Based on the play Background by Warren Chetham-Strode[1]
Starring Valerie Hobson
Philip Friend
Norman Wooland
Cinematography Arthur Grant
Distributed by ABPC (UK)
Release date
  • 3 November 1953 (1953-11-03) (UK)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Background (U.S. Edge of Divorce) is a 1953 British domestic drama film dealing with the effects of divorce, directed by Daniel Birt and starring Valerie Hobson, Philip Friend and Norman Wooland.[2] It was based on a stage play by Warren Chetham-Strode, who also wrote the screenplay for the film.[3]

A contemporary review in the Glasgow Herald gave the film a muted response, describing Hobson as "shrill" and Wooland as "too sympathetic", adding : " A heroic effort is made to apportion the blame fairly...yet intrinsically, one has to admit, the film has no great success."[4]


John and Barbie Lomax (Friend and Hobson) have been married for almost 20 years, but the marriage has seemingly reached breaking point. After leaving the army, John has been working hard on making a career for himself as a barrister, which takes up all of his time and attention, leaving him exhausted and irritable. He acts intolerantly and dismissively towards Barbie and their three children, and the marital relationship comes under intolerable strain as the couple argue, bicker and snipe constantly at each other. Realising that the poisoned atmosphere is not good for the children to experience, they agree that in the circumstances divorce is the lesser evil.

They are unprepared for how badly the children react when they break the news. The children jump to the conclusion that family friend 'Uncle' Bill Ogden (Woolard) is to blame, assuming from what they have seen that he has designs on Barbie. While this is true, it does not explain the depth of unhappiness felt by both their parents at their increasingly acrimonious relationship.

As the wheels of the divorce are set in motion, John and Barbie are faced with coming to agreement about what should happen to the children, whether all should be given to the custody of one parent, or whether they should be split up. Caught in the middle, the children take matters into their own hands, forcing their parents to reassess the wisdom of the path they are about to take. Finally they are forced into an about-face after realising the destructive effect of divorce on the children. They look again at their relationship and see that they are still in love with each other and both have been partly to blame for the breakdown in communication between them. They decide not to go any further with the divorce, and resolve in future to work with each other rather than carping and criticising.



  1. ^ Goble, Alan (1 January 1999). "The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film". Walter de Gruyter – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ "Background (1953) - Daniel Birt - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie". 
  3. ^ "Background (1953)". 
  4. ^ "Breaking Points in Marriage" Glasgow Herald, 19-10-1953. Retrieved 23-10-2010

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