Film ID: YFA 1532 Video of YFA 1532 Justice on Wheels 1968 JUSTICE ON WHEELS 1968 Visitor TabsDescription Made by Leeds-based filmmaker Jack Eley, this is a light-hearted film about a thief whose robbery is foiled by the work on the Rural Constabulary. Harewood House is used as the setting for the film. Title - Justice on Wheels Spotlight on the work of the Rural Constabulary The film opens with a shot of Harewood House. Inside a man is playing a violin. Note - Sotheby's Ltd. Stradivarius Violin Circa 1650 at auction £9600 The man closes the violin case and walks outside where a car and his driver are waiting for him. He gets into the Mercedes 220 SE Automatic and drives away. The car drives down the driveway of the estate and exits the large gate. Nearby, there is a man leaning on a garden wall where he is reading a newspaper. The headlines of that particular Yorkshire Post include, "Govt punish 2 directors! Tory Protest." After the man sees that the car has left the grounds of the estate, he hops over the stone wall and makes his way through the estate grounds, past the fountains and towards the house. Once at the house, the man breaks in and enters through a window. He rummages through everything in the room, collecting a silver serving set, jewellery, and cufflinks. Unaware that the violin is very valuable, he throws it to one side in order to use the case to carry his stolen items. Very pleased with himself, the thief stops to make himself a drink. Meanwhile, a policeman on a bike arrives at the kitchen entrance to the estate. He parks his bike outside and enters through the servant's entrance. The policeman greets the cook with a hug, and the two of them sit down at the kitchen table to have a cup of tea. As the thief finishes his drink, he knocks over a bottle causing a crashing sound which the policeman hears. The policeman runs into the next room, but the thief has already made his escape, climbing out of the window with violin case in hand. Meanwhile, the butcher has arrived at the back door with a delivery. He has parked his bike while he makes the delivery to the kitchen, and seeing an opportunity, the thief steals the bike to make his getaway. A bicycle chase begins, the policeman closely following the thief. They race down a country road where they encounter a railroad crossing. The thief manages to get through just as the barriers descend. The policeman is held up by the crossing train, but after it passes, he continues the chase. Mid chase, the policeman's bike breaks down. As luck would have it, a man is passing in a horse-drawn cart. He flags them down and continues the chase. They pass a man working on the road, and eventually two passing riders on horseback join the chase as well. Nearing his house, the thief ditches his bike and runs towards a barn. The policeman is able to outrun him, and he tackles the thief amid a flock of chickens. He handcuffs the thief, and using the butcher's bike, cycles back to the station with the thief riding in the front basket. Title - The End. Context This film was made by a keen amateur filmmaker from Leeds, John (Jack) S. Eley. The YFA has a large collection of Jack’s films spanning nearly fifty years, from 1932 up until 1980. This is an example of one of Jack’s comic films, but he made different types of films, though principally of a documentary type. He covered geographical and historical topics such as A Temple For Athena (1954), a trip of historical sites around the Mediterranean finishing up at Athens, and Invaders From The Sea (1964), about the places that the early Viking and Saxon invaders of Britain came from in Northern Europe. Also among Jack’s documentaries is one on the restoration work on York Minster from 1965-1967. Jack also clearly had a literary bent, making films on Emily Bronte, Emily Jane (1980), a film of a poem by Rupert Brooke, The Great Lover (1955), and one of where John Ruskin lived in the Lake District, Ruskin Country (1966). Jack was a member of Leeds Cine Club, and this is clearly a joint product with other club members, although it isn’t credited as such. Another example of one of Jack Eley’s comic films is Kelly’s Eye, made in 1972. This is credited as a production by ‘The Oval Group’, which presumably was a part of the Leeds Cine Club. To complicate matters further, there was, and still is, another sub-group, Mercury Movie Makers (MMM), who specialised in 16mm film rather than the 8mm that the Cine Club did. The Context for Kelly’s Eye has more information on Jack Eley and the Leeds Cine Club, and for more on MMM see the Context for A Vision Fulfilled (1982). There were about 400 amateur film clubs around the country by 1949, many starting shortly after the end of the war – and still continuing to this day. They would have their own film competitions and enter films for the national competitions run by the British Association of Amateur Cinematographers, established in 1927 – publishing a journal, Amateur Films (between 1928 and 1932) – and the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers (now IAC: Film and Video Institute), formed in 1932, with their journal Home Movies & Home Talkies. A comprehensive history of amateur filmmaking in Britain has yet to be written, although David Cleveland’s excellent two-volume book, Films Were Made, provides a thorough account of films and filmmakers in the East of England. David was founder of the East Anglian Film Archive (and Director until 2004) and taught Film and Television Studies at University of East Anglia, which has the Special Collection of ‘The Institute of Amateur Cinematographers Books, Periodicals and Papers (1928-2011)’. A partial exception is Movies on Home Ground: Explorations in Amateur Cinema, edited by Ian Craven, which addresses this to some extent – see too the work of Heather Norris Nicholson (References). Rather more has been written in a US context, for example by James Moran, Patricia R Zimmermann and Alan D. Kattelle. The film shows that there was much more to amateur cine clubs than just filming the family on holiday. There are many examples of cine clubs making comedies. As well as the Leeds Cine Club, their colleagues on the Mercury Movie Makers also made a number of well-made comedies. Their inspiration was the ever enthusiastic and inventive Alan Sid, who was always coming up with new ideas. One of these also involved a robber, called The Devil God (1974), in which some crooks steal a valuable work of art. Only with Alan Sidi it was always a dramatic car chase and a spectacular ending. The comedy in Justice On Wheels is more in the style of the silent comedy sketch, which would usually last only a few minutes, as might be found on The Dick Emery Show or The Tommy Cooper Show in the 1960s. The following year Jack, along with other members of the cine club, made another comic film, The Wheel, which displays the same gentle humour. Extended slapstick routines like these were becoming rare by the 1960s. Eric Syke’s famous sketch The Plank is one of the few exceptions; starting out as a short sketch in 1964 before it was extended in 1967 into a 45 minute film. It is certainly dated compared to something like Michael Bentine’s It's a Square World which started in 1960. But the comedy chase film has never gone entirely out of fashion, as witnessed by Stanley Kramer’s 1963 movie, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The chase sequence emerged early on in the film industry when comedies were the dominant form of film. As early as 1903 there were films made of comic chase scenes, especially in Britain and France. Examples of this include Daring Daylight Burglary and The Convict's Escape from Prison, both made by Frank Mottershaw in 1903, who set up the Sheffield Photo Company in that year – see also their Mixed Babies (1905), which has a police chase. Another example is Desperate Poaching Affray, made by another British director, William Haggar, soon after Mottershaw’s film. This idea was taken up in a big way, and made into an art form in its own right, by Mack Sennett, when he formed the Keystone Company in 1912 with studios in California. See also the Context for An Eccentric Burglary (1905). As can be imagined, the standing of Leeds Cine Club must have been quite high in order to gain permission to film in and around Harewood House. The house was built by Edwin Lascelles between 1759-71. He had been left a fortune by his father, Henry, who made his money from his position as a Barbadian customs collector and merchant. Edwin went on to add to this fortune through the 47 sugar plantations they owned in the West Indies, worked by slaves. For more on the Lascelles family see the Harewood 1807 website (References) and the Context for Princess Mary Visits Malton (1928). Whether the filmmakers were also allowed to handle a Stradivarius is a different matter. Their estimate of its auction value of £9600 would be roughly £1.3 million in today’s money – Nippon recently raised £9.8 million for their 1721 ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivarius in aid of their Japanese tsunami fund. In his Introduction to Movies on Home Ground, Ian Craven cites the work of sociologist Robert Stebbins, who notes that amateurs could be quite self-conscious about their amateur status. The great rise in hobbies before and after the Second World War threatened to blur the distinctions between the amateur and the professional in many areas. Should amateur filmmakers curtail their efforts so as not to overstep their amateur status, or should they try for a quality that risks unfair comparison with professionals? But maybe this is a question that academics ponder over whilst the ‘amateurs’ just get on with enjoying what they are doing. References David Cleveland, Films Were Made, published by David Cleveland, 2009 and 2011. Ian Craven (ed), Movies on Home Ground: Explorations in Amateur Cinema, Cambridge, 2009. Robert Stebbins, Amateurs: Margin Between Work & Leisure (Sociological Observations), Sage Publications, 1979 Szczelkun, Stefan. ‘The Value of Home Movies’, Oral History Society Journal, Autumn 2000 (V28 No 2 pp94/98)Harewood 1807 ExhibitionHeather Norris Nicholson BibliographyLeeds Movie MakersMercury Movie Makers Further Reading Donald W. McCaffrey, ‘The Evolution of the Chase in the Silent Screen Comedy’, The Journal of the Society of Cinematologists, Vol. 4/5, (1964/1965).