January 2, 2017


Against the Wind – 1948 | 96mins | Drama, War | B&W


Plot Synopsis

Against the Wind

Against the Wind starred French actress Simone Signoret, she was to make several British films in her subsequent distinguished career. Against the Wind, directed by Charles Crichton with a screenplay by Tibby Clarke and Michael Pertwee, was a return to the wartime idiom and, as Clarke ruefully observed in his autobiography, “a classic example of a mistimed film.” It appeared in early 1948, too soon after the end of the war to be part of the revival of interest in the subject which was to occur in the Fifties. As a result its box-office performance was disappointing. The title of the film was taken from some lines by Byron: “Yet Freedom! yet thy banner, torn but flying, Streams like the thunderstorm against the wind.” It was about a training school for saboteurs in London, one of whose number is caught on a mission to Belgium and ‘has to be rescued by five others who are parachuted into the enemy-held country. One of them, an explosives expert played by Gordon Jackson, is disastrously ill-equipped as he is unable to speak French. Another, played by Jack Warner, turns out to be a traitor, and is coldly executed by the attractive female member of the team, Simone Signoret, as if to emphasise the hard, instant decision-making necessary in wartime. However, in spite of casualties, the mission is a success.

Clarke went to much trouble in his research to gather true incidents from people who had served in the Belgian resistance, and incorporated some of them into the film. One scene, in which Gordon Jackson is obliged to visit a dentist during the mission on account of his raging toothache, was dismissed by contemporary critics as ludicrous and unbelievable, in spite of the fact that something similar had happened to one of Clarke’s friends. Exception was also taken to the role of a Catholic priest and a partisan, played by Robert Beatty, on the grounds that it was morally wrong for him to use the confessional for passing on information, and that sabotage involved deception and trickery instead of nice, clean, open fighting – a criticism that once again ignored the facts, for many men of God had been involved in the resistance movement.

Extract� George Perry: Forever Ealing.

Production Team

Charles Crichton: Director
J Elder Wills: Art Direction
Sidney Cole: Associate Producer
Paul Beeson: Camera Operator
Lionel Banes: Cinematography
Ernest Irving: Conductor
Alan Osbiston: Editing
Ernest Taylor: Make-Up Artist
Leslie Bridgewater: Music
Michael Balcon: Producer
Vincent Carroll: Script
Michael Pertwee: Script
TEB Clarke: Script
Stephen Dalby: Sound
Stephen Dendy: Special Effects


Robert Beatty: Father Phillip
Jack Warner: Max Cronk
Simone Signoret: Michele
Gordon Jackson: Johnny Duncan
Paul Dupuis: Jacques
Gisele Preville: Julie
John Slater: Emile
Peter Illing: Andrew
James Robertson Justice: Ackerman

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