About the film

A Technicolor masterpiece, Steel explores the manufacture of steel and the workings of a foundry.

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  • Release year - 1945
  • Director - Ronald H. Riley
  • Production company - Technique
  • Producer - A. Frank Bundy
  • Cinematographers - Jack Cardiff, Cyril Knowles
  • Composer - Hubert Clifford
  • Narration - John Laurie
  • Editor - Peter R.E. Tanner
  • Unit Production Manage - rHarry Reubin
  • Music Performed by - The London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conducted by - Muir Mathieson
  • Running time (minutes) - 32 mins 11 secs

Original description

The British steel industry

'The backbone of Britain's industrial power lies in her great steel industry. In the blast furnaces, forges, rolling mills, and machine shops labour vast numbers of highly skilled craftsmen who, for generations, have devoted their lives to serving a great tradition known the world over - the tradition of British steel.'

(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1946)

Did you know?

  • The accompanying booklet to DVD This Working Life: Steel (on which Steel appears) states that this film was ‘filmed in many steelworks around the UK, including the English Steel Corporation, Sheffield; Firth Brown’s and Arthur Balfour & Son, Sheffield; Colvilles Ltd of Motherwell; Rolls Royce and Hillingdon, Glasgow; Dorman Long’s works at Middlesborough; Guest, Keen and Baldwin’s at Cardiff; and Richard Thomas Ltd at Ebbw Vale.’
  • Universally praised, a comment from Bogotá in 1946 stated that “... this film is probably one of the most impressive (in spite of its technical nature) that has ever come to Colombia...”. Another from Valletta proclaimed it “Easily the best Council film shown in Malta to date. A really wonderful film.”
  • Aside from narrating Teeth of Steel (1942), John Laurie already had a number of film appearances by the time he narrated Steel; though he would come to be most known for playing Private James Frazer in Dad's Army years later. This spectacular Technicolor documentary was recently restored by the BFI and featured heavily in Jarvis Cocker’s 2013 archive-focussed piece The Big Melt.

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