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  1. #21
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristineCB
    I watched WENT WELL THE DAY recently and I don't give it very high marks. It's probably more "interesting" than "good", and that's likely to have been the primary goal of the film as a propaganda works (if that's what it was).
    Shame, it's a really great little film and propaganda certainly wouldn't have been Cav's primary aim. On a simple level you could view the film as reenforcing the 'You Never Know' poster campaign but there's deeper themes of the genteel English character under duress and the futility of war. The latter becomes apparent from Mervyn Johns introduction.

  2. #22
    Senior Member Country: United States
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    I think the "rushed" aspects that degraded the film's goodness are usually the stunts and action sequences, but there are also some unpolished dialog deliveries. I got the feeling that either lunch was ready or that shooting schedule was so tight that re-shoots weren't 'that' necessary - that's why I presumed one of the goals was to get the film finished and into theatres, and let the story cover up any of those minor flaws.



    The post-mistress' explanation of her lack of children ("his fault, my fault...") was a good quick explanation that distracted her guardian, but there was never an explanation of why the villager was a traitor, or a German plant or how that came about.



    It's an interesting choice to make in the screenplay - "Do we give one explanation for all possible German infiltrators or English traitors, or do we leave that to everyone's imagination?" In wartime, it was probably more useful to have the population consider a lot of alternatives and not spoon-feed them only one excuse for traitorous behavior.



    The narration at the beginning and ending of the film - presumably set far into the future, well beyond 1942 - is an interesting tool to use as well.



    This is why I rate the film as "more interesting than good".



    I also wonder about the timing of the film. I would have suspected that 1940 or 1941 would have been scarier years with the threat of invasion more imminent; this makes me wonder if there was serious English concern that the Germans would have required far more subterfuge in 1942 than a blunt-force-trauma invasion that was originally considered on both sides just after Dunkirk.



    I didn't see any date of Grahame Green's original story, but I wonder how close it was to Dunkirk (June, 1940).

  3. #23
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristineCB
    I think the "rushed" aspects that degraded the film's goodness are usually the stunts and action sequences, but there are also some unpolished dialog deliveries.
    The majority of the cast are established actors but some of the troops were genuine soldiers.



    I didn't see any date of Grahame Green's original story, but I wonder how close it was to Dunkirk (June, 1940).
    Think it was written in response to the outbreak of war in Europe and was printed in 1940. I've not read it but it does appear that they've remained fairly faithful to the original story. With the German's invading France I suppose the idea of soldiers parachuting into a quiet English village didn't appear so far-fetched.

  4. #24
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    They probably started working on it in 1941. Events were moving quite fast at the time and the threat of invasion was still there in 1942. There were many stories about Nazi paratroopers at the time as they're the ones that led the invasion of France and the Low Countries.



    Like much British wartime propaganda they don't explain everything and leave it to the audience to figure out some parts. Does there have to be a reason why Leslie Banks' character was a traitor? It's enough that he was.



    I think the main point of it was probably the "What would you do in those circumstances?" question. The big shocker scene was the harmless little old lady that ran the post office and how she fought back. The noble deed by the posh lady to save the children is also quite a shock.



    And what about the fiancee? Hell hath no fury ...



    Steve

  5. #25
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    DB and Steve, yes, absolutely. Understood all of your points. I think the "don't explain traitor" is an interesting choice, and I'd love to hear the discussions of "Should we or shouldn't we?"



    The crispness of dialog in so many Ealing films - and this one in places - shows they knew how to write 1, 2 or even 3 sentences to explain just about anything IF they wanted to. I assume they purposely left out any explanation only to convey some ambiguity, to better ensure the citizenry would pay more attention to all things.



    But...



    What about the storyteller?



    His presence indicates - to me - that victory and celebration of England's struggles was assured.



    And while there could have been some hopeful belief in 1942 of such an outcome, I'm not sure "certainty" would have been on anyone's brow except the Ealing execs who put in the 'storyteller'.



    Quite an odd device. Then again, for purely propaganda purposes, what could be more certainly hopeful than telling a tale of today as if it was a decade or so's factual hisory.



    Another question... how long would it have taken in 1942 to finish shooting and to get the film into theatres? Three months? Two? One? Five or more? If we could have had GAAP fund cuts back then, this movie might have made the 2002 BAFTAs.

  6. #26
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    The brutal acts by the women were another set of interesting choices. They could have bashed a few men over the heads and let the He-Men of the village administer the coup de grâce but again, more interesting decisions by the film-makers!



    I don't know if any of the actresses had ever filmed such an act in their prior cinematic lives before, and this goes back to Steve's quip about "What would you do if-?" comes to mind.

  7. #27
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Has anyone read the book in the BFI Film Classics series?

    These are personal essays by people and this one is by Penelope Houston, film critic and previously the editor of Sight and Sound.



    Steve

  8. #28
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    I think it was preferable NOT to expand on the reasons for the actions of the traitor. With invasion and the presence of spies a constant threat, the public needed to be vigilant and to expect the unexpected - to explain the motives for his actions in the screenplay would have diluted the message that the public needed to be alert to the fact that danger could be covert.



    The device of portraying Mervyn Johns' character as speaking the prologue (and epilogue) from the 'safety' of an England which had won the war was an inspired one and succeeded as a means of relaxing the audience into a frame of mind that made the subsequent violence of the villagers seem all the more shocking but explicable ("the end justifying the means"). They needed to be shown what could have been so easily lost.

  9. #29
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    Steve, thanks for that link.



    Alan, your two points are my thoughts as well. The script's ability to offer explanations quickly and succinctly, and then the total absence of an explanation for the traitor's motives, had to be deliberate and this was likely based on your arguments.



    "Inspired" use of the storyteller is probably the one thing that I kept rolling over in my head as the picture played on. To see the 'aged stone inscription' made me think this was a tale from perhaps decades into the future.

  10. #30
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Grammar gets a bit tricky when it's a film that was made in the past that was mainly portraying what was then approximately the present or the recent past and is made to appear to have been made at some time in the future so that most of it is like a flashback



    Steve

  11. #31
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    I've always thought that Mervyn Johns sedate bookending of the film had a hint of pacifism to it given that many films of the time may have ended with a heartwarming communal ending or jingoistic triumphalism. On Leslie Banks character, without rationale I've imagined his choice was one of ideology and by choosing the local gentry as a fifth columnist it fits in with the Nazi supremacist ideology (would any of the other characters have made a realistic Nazi?) and warns the public that even the most respected member of a community could be a traitor.



    The worst scene for Churchill was the cycling troops gunned down and iirc it took some protesting from Balcon to keep it in.

  12. #32
    Super Moderator Country: Fiji
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    Grammar gets a bit tricky when it's a film that was made in the past that was mainly portraying what was then approximately the present or the recent past and is made to appear to have been made at some time in the future so that most of it is like a flashback



    Steve
    The framing of the piece (as described here) was surely the core propaganda element of the film ; we SHALL overcome and all will again be as it was, this quiet, undisturbed English idyll.



    SMUDGE

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by DB7
    ...a hint of pacifism to it..
    I didn't pick up that impression. When I watch it again, I'll see. But it's an interesting point when considering the brutality of some of the killings in it.

  14. #34
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    The shock factor of the killings was deliberately done, especially against the peaceful English village background. The message was several-fold, I think:



    1. Invasion might bring the necessity for "un-British" drastic action

    2. Be on your guard at all times, you never know what those dastardly Germans might get up to.



    Several other (in fact, come to think of it, most other) British propaganda films carry such messages, see "Next of Kin" and the short "Miss Grant goes to the door"



    rgds

    Rob

  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    Has anyone read the book in the BFI Film Classics series?

    These are personal essays by people and this one is by Penelope Houston, film critic and previously the editor of Sight and Sound.



    Steve
    Yes, The Houston book was very informative and added just another dimension to what is one of my favourite films of the period.

  16. #36
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DB7
    Shame, it's a really great little film and propaganda certainly wouldn't have been Cav's primary aim. On a simple level you could view the film as reenforcing the 'You Never Know' poster campaign but there's deeper themes of the genteel English character under duress and the futility of war. The latter becomes apparent from Mervyn Johns introduction.
    Yes, it's a great little film.



    It is a highly effective and moving war-time drama, and succeeds in its primary goal: the stunning contrast between the Nazis and the ordinary decency of a village. The murder of the vicar and the postmistress and the sudden death of the Marie Lohr character by a hand grenade are genuinely shocking because of the contrast. That same postmistress hacks a soldier to death, while several of the women pick off the invaders with rifles and pistols.



    This isn't the first time I have appreciated this forum. I remembered seeing that very brief scene many years ago of the woman shooting the Nazis from the manor house windows, but had not seen the film and did not know the title. It stayed with me. Several months ago I posted that on the forum and Batman identified it. I would never have placed it otherwise. I finally had the chance to watch it - and it made a fine companion piece to The Battle of Britain.



    William Walton's score is a gem. His style of melancholy and nostalgia mixed with triumphalism exactly matches the film.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimR
    Yes, it's a great little film.



    It is a highly effective and moving war-time drama, and succeeds in its primary goal: the stunning contrast between the Nazis and the ordinary decency of a village. The murder of the vicar and the postmistress and the sudden death of the Marie Lohr character by a hand grenade are genuinely shocking because of the contrast. That same postmistress hacks a soldier to death, while several of the women pick off the invaders with rifles and pistols.



    This isn't the first time I have appreciated this forum. I remembered seeing that very brief scene many years ago of the woman shooting the Nazis from the manor house windows, but had not seen the film and did not know the title. It stayed with me. Several months ago I posted that on the forum and Batman identified it. I would never have placed it otherwise. I finally had the chance to watch it - and it made a fine companion piece to The Battle of Britain.



    William Walton's score is a gem. His style of melancholy and nostalgia mixed with triumphalism exactly matches the film.
    Well worth watching in tandem with The Eagle Has Landed to compare and contrast the changing attitudes in the intervening 30 years. As it happens, TEHL is on this weekend so I shall endeavour to take my own advice - the presence of a certain Miss Agutter in TEHL may have influenced my decision somewhat

  18. #38
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fellwanderer
    Well worth watching in tandem with The Eagle Has Landed to compare and contrast the changing attitudes in the intervening 30 years.
    Oh yes - I saw that years ago and liked it very much. I see the similarities. I'll watch it again.



    As it happens, TEHL is on this weekend so I shall endeavour to take my own advice - the presence of a certain Miss Agutter in TEHL may have influenced my decision somewhat
    That's right - she is in that, isn't she....looking and sounding very good, as she always does.



    How do you do it?



    Boy, have you got it bad.



    If we were talking about nuclear physics, we would discover that yes - Jenny Agutter does indeed have a connection with nuclear physics.



    The connection might be tenuous and convoluted, but it is there and you will tell us the details...

  19. #39
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    Tim, if you can get hold of a copy - which might be tricky - then you also ought to try Lawrence Huntindgon's film "Warn That Man"



    See Warn That Man (1943)



    It has a very similar plotline - the "Man" is never named, but I assume it to be Churchill.



    It has the added bonus (but you might not agree!) of starring the incomparable Gordon Harker.



    rgds

    Rob

  20. #40
    Senior Member Country: Europe Bernardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DB7
    Nazis into Germans: Went the Day Well? (1942) and The Eagle Has Landed (1976).(Critical Essay)
    Could not read this off the screen so I printed it. I can not believe I have missed this over the years. Thank you for posting it, a good read.

    I condensed the quote to the heading for obvious reasons. Anyone who has not read this critique do so.

    Bernard

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