Teeth of Steel

About the film

The mechanical power of giant excavators and the work they do to help Britain's growth.

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  • Release year - 1942
  • Director - Ronald H. Riley
  • Production company - Technique Films
  • Producer - James Carr
  • Cinematographer - Geoffrey G. Unsworth
  • Composer - V. Hely Hutchinson
  • Narration - John Laurie
  • Editor - Peter Tanner
  • Sound recording - Al Rhind
  • Scenario - Max Munden
  • Music played by - a section of the London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conducted by - Muir Mathieson
  • Running time (minutes) - 10 mins 24 secs

Original description

Excavators at work

'Britain's giant excavators with their teeth of steel are cutting new inland waterways, draining fenland so that more food can be grown, carving out railways, docks and harbours, hewing iron-ore for factories and shipyards, digging clay for bricks.

These machines, perfected by British engineers, give their powerful aid to Britain's reconstruction.'

(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1942-43)

Did you know?

  • Teeth of Steel is, when compared to other films in this collection, unusually explicit about the war effort. This is possibly due to off-screen politics between the British Council and the Ministry of Information; the British Council initially believed that it was not allowed to mention the war within its films due to an embargo from the Ministry, however it transpired in February 1942 that this had been a misunderstanding. Teeth of Steel is one of the first films completed after this realisation, and may be an attempt to compensate for the previously ‘idyllic’ tone of the archive.
  • Best known for his role as Private James Frazer in Dad’s Army, John Laurie was an accomplished Shakespearian actor by the time he narrated Teeth of Steel. His acting career continued to blossom after this, but he was again enlisted by the British Council to narrate the Technicolor Steel in 1945.
  • There is another connection to Steel, in that both films feature Technicolor footage of steelworks. Given that Teeth of Steel was made around three years before Steel, it is feasible that the shots in this title inspired the later film.

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