Jackson's White Corridors
WHITE CORRIDORS, a hospital drama ﬁrst shown in June 1951, belongs to the small class of ﬁctional ﬁlms that deny themselves a musical score. Even the brief passages that top and tail the ﬁlm, heard over the initial credits and the ﬁnal image, were added against the wish of its director, Pat Jackson. Jackson had spent the ﬁrst ten years of his career in documentary, joining the GPO Unit in the mid-1930s and staying on throughout the war after its rebranding as Crown, and the denial of music is clearly part of a strategy for giving a sense of documentary-like reality to the ﬁctional material of White Corridors.
There is a certain paradox here, in that actual documentaries, like newsreels, normally slap on music liberally. To take two submarine-centred features, released almost simultaneously in 1943, Gainsborough's ﬁctional We Dive at Dawn, in which Anthony Asquith directs a cast of familiar professionals headed by John Mills and Eric Portman, has virtually no music, while Crown's `story-documentary', Close Quarters, whose cast are all acting out their real-life naval roles, has a full-scale score by Gordon Jacob. Other ﬁlms in this celebrated wartime genre have even more prominent and powerful scores, by Vaughan Williams for Coastal Command (1942), by William Alwyn for Fires were Started (1943) and by Clifton Parker for Jackson's own Western Approaches (1945). One can rationalise this by saying that documentary has enough markers of authenticity already at the level of dramatic and visual construction, and a corresponding need for the bonus of____________________