The Moon over the Alley (1977)

The multicultural residents of a ramshackle boarding house face multiple problems in this intricate ensemble drama.

Stills must not be reproduced, copied or downloaded in any way.

Film details


“ a Bert Brecht-Kurt Weill collaboration mated with one of the more sentimental working-class subjects that Gracie Fields used to stretch her vocal cords on. Oddly, unexpectedly, the two intentions unite in a truthful, fresh fashion that doesn't exploit the milieu, but illuminates it.”
Alexander Walker, Evening Standard, 28 October 1976

In 1975 Joseph Despins and William Dumaresq finished this extraordinary and unclassifiable film. Exploring controversial issues such as racism, paedophilia, rape, drug abuse and stripping, it employed a number of seemingly incongruous devices – musical numbers, over-the-top performances, theatrical staging – to produce an enjoyable and profoundly affecting work.

Under threat of the compulsory purchase of their Notting Hill terraced house, the German housewife-cum-landlady takes in an American youth, a Jamaican family and a reclusive old man. Elsewhere, an Irishman struggles to hold down two jobs and come to terms with his girlfriend's work in a stripclub. Meanwhile, a couple of down-and-outs sing prophetic songs under the light of the moon. Soon the events which take place around them have a major impact upon their lives.

The magic realist numbers from the film are by Galt MacDermot, who composed the score for the musical Hair, made into an award-winning film in 1979.

Cast & Credits

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top