Quite simply, this is one of the best films ever made at Ealing Studios. This film was a rare none comic film from a studio best known for its comic output.
For a film from the 40’s, Went The Day Well? contains some extremely graphic and dark scenes. For instance, there’s the scene where a woman hatchets a German soldier to death and in turn she is murdered by his colleague. The scene where the home guard are gunned down on the road. The scene where a woman is slapped for not obeying instructions. There is also the scene where the Vicar is shot to death in his church.
One of the most shocking (and for me most unforgettable)scenes comes near the end of the film. A live grenade is thrown into a room full of children, an older woman grabs it and runs from the room with it, only to be blown up.
The body count in this film is very high. Both British and German characters are killed throughout, leading to the battle for the village in the films final minutes.
The film is based on a story by Graham Greene. The film no doubt served as a reminder to British people at the time to remain vigilant to the possible invasion of the enemy.
Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, Went The Day Well? tells the story of a group of German paratroopers who seize control of the British village of Bramley End. Some of the villagers make an heroic stand against the soldiers, and they try and get word to neighbouring communities of the arrival of the Germans.
Unbeknown to the villagers one of their own is a German sleeper agent. Leslie Banks plays the double crossing Oliver Wilsford, happily ending the lives of people he has lived amongst for years.
This film has a cracking cast. Marie Loher is excellent as the heroic Mrs. Fraser.
C.V France is excellent as the steadfast Vicar, willing to risk his own life instead of bowing beneath the jackboot.
Valerie Taylor is Nora, the Vicar’s gentle daughter who will do the unthinkable and resort to violence.
Harry Fowler is George, a young boy who will risk his own life to alert neighbours to the invasion.
A very young Thora Hird is Ivy, happily dispatching Germans off with her shotgun.
Muriel George is Mrs. Collins, the brave postmistress who gives a side order of hatchet with her sausages and mash.
A young David Farrar impresses as an ice cold German casually threatening to kill the village children.
The film interestingly depicts everyone in this community working together for the greater good. Whether they be rich or poor, old or young, male or female; the villagers work as one to defeat the enemy.
I also like how for most of the film it is the women who come up with plans of escape or of warning the outside(the eggs with a message on for example). The film offers some very strong female roles, and shows the women to be just as brave(if not braver)as the men.
One of my favourite war time films, and a film that I consider to be one of the best British films ever made. I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this film influenced The Eagle Has Landed.
Highly recommended if you’ve never seen it. If you have, please leave your thoughts below.