British filmmaker Ken Loach began his illustrious career making television movies for the BBC's well-regarded Wednesday Play series. From the beginning, his films addressed social issues from a clearheaded leftist point-of-view. As Cathy Come Home demonstrates, Loach is a true social realist, in that he eschews sentimentality. Cathy (Carol White) is a young, attractive, working-class woman. When she marries Reg (Ray Brooks), they take a larger apartment, thinking that between their two modest salaries, they'll be able to squeak by. Reg expects his lot to improve, but it doesn't. Cathy has a baby, and in short order gets pregnant again, and before long, the couple find themselves in dire financial straits. They lose one apartment to an unscrupulous landlord. They're forced out of a caravan park after a fire. They move in with Reg's mother, but she kicks them out of her cramped flat after an argument with Cathy. The couple ends up at the mercy of the British government's grossly inadequate public housing program. Cathy is forced to live with the children in a women's shelter, where Reg is not allowed to stay. Despondent and ashamed at his inability to provide for his family, Reg visits Cathy and the kids less and less frequently, and the couple begin to drift apart. Slipping into financial destitution, Cathy must now struggle to maintain custody of her children. Loach intersperses his vérité-style black-and-white footage of Cathy's travails with what is presumably documentary footage of the housing system's victims. He also uses voice-overs of people describing their experiences in the housing system, and a narrator gives vital statistics on homelessness, the unfair scapegoating of immigrants, and the slow destruction of poor British families by the housing bureaucracy.
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