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The Bespoke Overcoat

UK, 1955 (MIFF 1956, Programme 2)

Director: Jack Clayton

Prize-winner at the 1955 Venice Festival,this modern Jewish variation of Gogol's famous serio-comic story, The Cloak, is a welcome addition to that rare genre, the short story film of quality.

Set in an East-End slum, the story pivots on the deep friendship of two humble Jews. Its sentiment and humour stretch beyond the grave, but first-rate acting and outstanding direction and photography establish a firm bridge between the temporal and the supernatural.

The director has achieved a piece of contemporary Jewish folklore: the dialogue has a deliberate tang, the background &ndash: the warehouse, the meagre little rooms of the clerk and his friend, the tailor, and a single little melancholy street &ndash: become almost an abstraction of poverty.

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