Directed byRoy Ward Baker
Written byPatrick Kirwan
Liam O'Flaherty
additional dialogue
Patrick Campbell
Catherine Cookson
Based onA Grand Man (novel)
by Catherine Cookson
StarringJohn Gregson
CinematographyGeoffrey Unsworth
Edited byJohn D. Guthridge
Music byCedric Thorpe Davie
George H. Brown Productions
Distributed byRank
Release date
  • 5 June 1956 (1956-06-05)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Jacqueline is a 1956 British drama film shot in Belfast and directed by Roy Ward Baker. It is based on the novel The Grand Man (1954) by Catherine Cookson.[1]


Steel worker Mike McNeil's drinking spirals out of control when he loses his job due to vertigo at the Belfast shipyard. But his devoted young daughter Jacqueline vows to help him.

She is picked as soloist at a church festival and attempts to persuade a tough land-owner to give her troubled dad another chance.[1]



The film was based on the novel The Grand Man (1954) by Catherine Cookson. It was Cookson's fifth book. Cookson was paid £750 for the rights and a draft of the script. The film was set in Belfast as opposed to Tyneside which is where the novel was set. Cookson disliked the casting of Jacqueline Ryan in the lead role, feeling she was miscast. She was ultimately unhappy with the film, as she was with Rooney another adaptation from the Rank Organisation of one of her novels.[2]

Baker said "the picture was partly made because of the introduction at that time of the blue backing process which made back projection very much easier than the old-fashioned process but it had its teething problems and difficulties. So, I boldly was the first one to use it and it worked extremely well. Again, we had an extremely good cast."[3]

Baker said John Gregson "was excellent for the part except he kept saying I wish I was Victor McLaglen because it needed a great big hunk of a man and John wasn't."[3]

Jacqueline Ryan was the daughter of Phyllis Ryan, an actor and later manager.[4]

There was some location work done in Belfast but the bulk of the film was shot at Pinewood. Ward said "Every film has its problems and with this one it was that the central character was the little girl who since she was nine had never been in front of a camera before. She'd been tested and looked at and seemed all right. But she was frightened to death. I think she thought the Duke of Wellington was going to come and put her in the Tower and leave her there. Anyway, she got through it and in the end she wasn't bad. Also, I'd never directed a child before.[3]

Critical reception

The Observer called it "a nice, dull film."[5]

Variety called it

A saccharine, sentimental yarn... notable for the fact that it introduces an attractive new child personality. Also that it permits most of £he other characters to indulge in large doses of conventional Irish blarney. Pic is strictly for the family trade. The story is oldfashioned in conception and presentation, and never attempts 'to be anything but dated melodrama... The emphasis all the way is on the tear-jerking aspects and they’re frequently very contrived. There is a limited appeal in the background and the scenes of a slum neighborhood celebrating the Coronation with a street party has some interest. The picture, however, is dominated by the moppet performer who, without precociousness, and with no previous experience, acts with genuine con¬viction and sincerity.[6]

Britmovie called the film "gushingly sentimental";[1] while Sky Movies called it "a likeable little drama with earnest performances and atmospheric background detail."[7]

Roy Ward Baker said "the film was quite successful. It was a harmless fairy tale. They were all good in it and they were picturesque and quite funny. "[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Jacqueline 1956 | Britmovie | Home of British Films". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  2. ^ Goodwin, Cliff (1995). To be a lady : the story of Catherine Cookson. Arrow. pp. 187–190.
  3. ^ a b c d "Transcript of Interview with Roy Ward Baker" (PDF). History Project. 1989. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  4. ^ Ryan, Phyllis (1996). The company I kept. Town House. pp. 134–137.
  5. ^ Lejeune, C.A. (10 June 1956). "At the Films". The Observer. p. 10.
  6. ^ "Jacqueline". Variety. 13 June 1956. p. 20.
  7. ^ "Jacqueline".