Ken Russell’s Post-War London

Before he became a controversial and world-renowned film director, Ken Russell struggled to earn a living as a photographer in London during the mid-to-late 1950s.
(The images can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

A street entertainer in west London. You can see Ken’s director’s eye in this photo.

Little girls playing in the street with a pram and a tricycle. Once again, we see how they were completely unsupervised by adults or parents.

‘Teddy Girls’. These were the girlfriends of the Teddy Boys, followers of Rock and Roll music who dressed in an Edwardian style. Hence their popular name.

Children playing on a bomb site. They have constructed their own version of an adventure playground with whatever debris they could find.

This lady had tried to sell her novels for over 30 years. She eventually gave up, and pasted her numerous rejection letters onto a wall near her house.

Sandwich Board men. They would walk the streets wearing those signs advertising all kinds of different things. The pay was low, but cash in hand. Russell called this photo ‘Old Soldiers’, indicating that many men had left the army with no jobs to go to, and had to resort to such lowly employment.

Two children playing in the rain in west London. They only have some wire milk crates to amuse themselves with.

52 thoughts on “Ken Russell’s Post-War London

  1. Great post 🙂 I know it has been a while 🙂 I finally finished my blog entry that I will be putting up next month regarding my 10 favorite films of all-time 🙂 As for these pictures, Ken Russell was a master photographer as well and similar to what Pauline Kael said about Robert Altman, for me, Ken Russell is another director who could make “fireworks out of next to nothing” She said “film fireworks”, but I only said fireworks regarding Ken Russell here because these were the days when he was a photographer as opposed to a director. You are also so right about The Devils 🙂 BTW, do you consider that a horror film? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, John. Thanks for your thoughts on the post. Personally, I don’t consider The Devils to be a horror film. I would class it as an historical drama with scenes that Ken added to deliberately cause controversy. The result is a powerful visual feast that can be unsettling at times.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If there was no television to exaggerate the small percentage of weirdos and evil (which has always been there), parents would be far more comfortable allowing their children to play unsupervised. Best to you, Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. More great pictures. I remember “sandwich men”. What a miserable existence in cold wet London. When I was little I had my hair tied in ribbons like that. One of my ribbons fell off in the sea at Bournemouth and Mum said not to worry, aunty Kay would send it back from New York, but I never got it back! Kids are tough. I think they get too mollycoddled now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic images. He had a good eye for images, although these ones are much soberer than his later work. I love the Teddy girls and those children… And the author… For many of us is easy to imagine how she was feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. (1) Let’s see that guitar player strum “Malagueña” while riding his penny-farthing on a tightrope between two Brookmans Park transmission towers.
    (2) Let’s see one of those little girls can eat an ice cream cone while riding a tricycle on a tightrope between two Brookmans Park transmission towers.
    (3) That Teddy Girl is well dressed. But I’d rather see Teddy bare.
    (4) Hey, girls! Those are bricks, not Legos! Put ’em back!
    (5) Makeshift climbing frame. Creative jungle gym. Call it what you want. Just remember to call the kids back into class after recess! Or playtime. Whatever works.
    (6) Thirty years of rejection letters? That’s unacceptable! (Also, she’s gonna need a bigger wall…)
    (7) The pay was low? I hope those Sandwich Board men didn’t go hungry!
    (8) Wire milk scratches the throat as you drink it. It’s hard to believe they can sell crates of it! #Ricola #Sucrets

    Note: I have four Ken Russell films on DVD.
    — Altered States
    — Crimes of Passion
    — The Lair of the White Worm
    — Women in Love (I’ve also read the book twice in French translation)
    (I’ve seen Gothic, and would like to see more of his films!)

    Liked by 1 person

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