This 1958 film set in the Ranelagh House for Deprived Children provides a fascinating look at social work and how different things were in the 1950s and early 60s.
The subjects of child neglect, domestic violence, parental (and official) indifference, capital punishment and suicide are presented in a very forthright way (especially for 1958). In that sense, the film is a valuable social document. There are some moments of tear-jerking but as a whole, this is a sincere and often moving film.
Ann Fairlie (Barbara Murray) is a welfare officer struggling to look after a collection of kids from disadvantaged and underprivileged backgrounds (“broken homes”). She meets and falls for a kind, gentle widowed television repairman called Bill Lowther (a fresh-faced Max Bygraves) who has some fairly traumatic baggage of his own.
Together, they set about trying to bring a little happiness to their young charges and to themselves.
The film follows the fortunes – or ill-fortune – of three groups of youngsters from the home. A bedraggled trio (led by Dana Wilson) whose father has killed their mother; a teenage boy called Don (Sean Barrett with a performance beyond his 17 years) who has waited eight years to find his weak and wilting mother (Kathleen Harrison) who left him; and a chirpy boy called Georgie (Colin Petersen) who keeps a lonely vigil for the visits of his dipsomaniac mother (Eleanor Summerfield).