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The Workman’s Nightmare (1951)


This short amateur film is about a young man (John Straford) who, falling asleep on his work break, dreams that his ladder attacks him.

Curator’s notes

The Workman’s Nightmare was the first venture into amateur filmmaking by the Straford Brothers. It is an accomplished effort, with most of the editing and effects achieved in-camera, including the stop-motion moving ladder (see also A World to Conquer, 1956). It also features the tongue-in-cheek quality that is a signature of both their fiction and non-fiction work throughout the 1950s and ’60s. The Strafords developed their own logo for SBF (Straford Brothers Films), which appeared on most of their works following The Workman’s Nightmare.

John and Frank Straford made this film with a motorised Pathé 9.5mm camera, which they continued to use for the next four years. Their father, Vivien Straford, was himself a home-movie enthusiast and bought a hand-cranked Baby Pathé 9.5mm camera in the late 1920s, which the brothers still have (see The SBF Story, 2007). The 9.5mm narrow gauge film format was less used than 16mm but still popular for amateur filmmakers because the cameras were compact and relatively cheap. The Strafords eventually bought a 16mm camera when 9.5mm film became harder to obtain after Kodak bought the Pathé company (see The Piano Tuner, 1960).