“ Genre: Crime & Thriller - Thriller / Theatrical Release: 1942 / Director: Alberto Cavalcanti / Actors: Leslie Banks, C.V. France ... / DVD released 13 November, 2006 at Optimum Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Black & White, PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Review of the DVD 'Went the Day Well?' .
About the DVD
The DVD has a run time of 88 minutes, carries a PG certificate and was produced in black and white. The film was first released in cinemas in 1942 by Ealing Studios. Released on DVD in 2006 by Optimum Home Entertainment
The cast includes Leslie Banks, Mervyn Johns, Thora Hird, Marie Lohr, Basil Sydney and Edward Rigby.
The film was produced by Michael Balcon and directed by Alberto Cavalcanti.
The DVD is a one disc edition and there are no special features or extras included.
First produced in 1942, 'Went the Day Well?' is based on a short story by Graeme Green. The film was is a classic piece of propagandist entertainment, a warning to British citizens to remain ever alert for the arrival of the enemy. 'Went the Day Well?' was one of many movies released to cinemas during the second world war, at a time when the English film industry was making propaganda films for the War Ministry. 'Went the Day Well?' was designed to be a moral boosting and patriotic drama, in a time when the outcome of the second world war was still uncertain.
The movie is set in the fictitious village of Bromley End, a typical middle England village, complete with picturesque church, village green and a full complement of stereotypical of rural characters. We meet the no nonsense lady of the manor type, the fragile, yet brave vicar's daughter, sturdy land army girls and some very macho males. All very well spoken with the perfect Queen's English of the time.
Bromley End is delighted when a several lorry loads of soldiers, Royal Engineers arrive in their village. The villagers welcome the soldiers and are pleased to be hospitable and welcoming to the men who are fighting for Britain in the war.
What the villagers do not realise at first is that the soldiers are not what they seem. They are in fact a company of German parachutists, disguised as British soldiers. Their mission is to install radar apparatus to disrupt England's entire communication network.
The Germans have a British traitor in their pay, the community of Bromley End is shocked and horrified when the truth emerges, both that they have been hosts to the enemy and just who the traitor in their midst is.
The Germans take the entire village hostage and the situation reaches desperate levels.
The tension builds as the plot unfolds and the villagers have a clear choice, to fight and defeat the enemy or comply with their demands. The final outcome of the invasion of Bromley End is fraught with danger as the heroism of the ordinary folk of the village battle with their enemy, their conscienses and the horrors of war, shine through.
There is no gratuitous violence in the actual film, however it is very cleverly produced and leaves the viewer in no doubt as to what is happening to the characters. In some respects, I find this more effective than the 'blood and guts' type of film, as your imagination and the atmospheric camera angles add to the suspense and drama on screen. I also feel that the black and white photography adds to the over all feeling of good winning over bad, in this DVD.
As I have stated this DVD is really a piece of War Ministry propaganda and as such, I am sure you can work out the final conclusion of the DVD, however, I won't reveal more here and will let those who wish to track down this piece of modern history, to find out for themselves!
Availability and Price
'Went the Day Well?' can be found through various online retailers. A quick search shows the following prices:-
My Thoughts and Conclusion
'Went the Day Well?' is a good old Ealing Studios classic. The plot is a little predictable but contains enough twists, turn and surprises to keep viewers interest. The characters are well rounded and believable, the acting is good and the storyline keeps rolling, with no dull or tedious moments. I enjoyed this film for what it was, a British Wartime drama with a strong morale boosting message. Viewers back in 1942 were in the middle of a frightening and life threatening war, ordinary people were on their guard, watching out for wrong doers, spies and enemy invasion. 'Went the Day Well?' showed how a small village of ordinary folk, by pulling together, could defeat the enemy.
It is an excellent film and one that I feel deserves to be watched, yes the speech and acting techniques are dated, but they were very relevant at the time and as such, this DVD is a remarkable piece of British history.
I would recommend to others.
Thank you for reading
©brittle1906 October 2009
NB My reviews may be found on other review sites, under the same user name, brittle1906.
When the classics of British wartime cinema are listed, "Went the Day Well?" is often overlooked. If people have heard of it at all, it's usually because they've stumbled across it by accident on daytime TV. And, to my mind, this is a really great shame: I think the film deserves much more recognition because it is quite simply the best film of its time.
Loosely based on the Graham Greene story "The Lieutenant Died Last" (a title that the film retained for its American release), "Went the Day Well?" is in one sense just a piece of propaganda which is intended to highlight the threat of Nazi invasion while boosting its viewers morale. But it is so much more than just that: despite now being almost 70-years old, it remains an engaging and affecting thriller that all fans of great drama are bound to enjoy.
Some of the film's suspense is lessened by the way the story is constructed. Everything is related in flashback, and we're told at the outset that some of the characters die. Even the title indicates as much, having been taken from the following poem, which appears at the end of the opening credits:
Went the day well?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill,
Freedom, we died for you.
But the lack of suspense on this point does not lessen the film's overall impact. What's so striking about "Went the Day Well?" - and what makes it so unusual - is the contrast that exists between its idyllic rural setting and the sometimes brutal violence that plays out there. This creates a very particular emotional response. On one hand, you'll think you're watching something fairly twee, but then you'll be left reeling by one of the many shocking events that deliver a real gut punch.
This kind of effect is all the more surprising given how the film begins. In its gentle opening sequences, we're introduced to Bramley End, a quiet, rural village which seems largely unaffected by the war. There we meet the various characters as they go about their daily lives. There's the gossiping elderly postmistress, the cheeky Cockney evacuee, the timid vicar's daughter, the overbearing lady of the manor, the excited bride-to-be, the verger in the churchyard and the local poacher, who's hiding in the woods to keep away from the police. Together, these characters represent almost every section of society, and that was clearly the intention. For this to work as propaganda, you must be able to identify with the responses of these people - and it works so well because you can.
Now, Bramley End is the kind of place where nothing ever seems to happen - at the beginning of the film, the greatest challenge its characters seem to be facing is to find a missing pair of secateurs! So when a platoon of Royal Engineers arrive, there's great excitement about their presence. But the villagers soon start to suspect that something isn't quite right. Why, for example, do these British soldiers write the figures 5 and 7 in a "continental fashion"? Why do they get so impatient when the young evacuee asks them what they're doing? And how come one of them has some chocolate that was made in Vienna? Quickly, the horrifying realisation dawns that these are not British soldiers at all, but rather a group of German paratroopers who have infiltrated the village in preparation for a large-scale invasion of the country.
It's at this point that the story turns as the villagers decide they must fight back. The Germans have cordoned off the village, so their only option is to somehow get a message to the outside world. Initially, they try non-violent means, but all their early efforts are frustrated - you'll feel the desperation with them each time their plans go wrong.
Aside from trying to outwit their enemy, the villagers also decide to take more drastic measures. Again, the film gives clues that this is set to happen and cover illustration of the DVD showing some of the characters toting guns around the village means that it won't come as much of a surprise. But that doesn't really matter because it still gives rise to shocking scenes. Although the violence is rarely depicted directly, the implications of what is happening will certainly give you a jolt. Particularly extraordinary is a scene in which a character throws pepper into the eyes of her German guard and then apparently beheads him with an axe. And that is not the only incident to floor you: throughout the film you'll see the kindest of characters indulging in the cold-blooded killing of their enemies, and often doing so with relish.
But I don't want to give the impression that "Went the Day Well?" is some kind of blood-soaked gore fest. Most of the violence is only ever implied (hence the film's PG rating), and just as prominent is the humour with which it all takes place. In parts, "Went the Day Well?" is very funny - Thora Hird, for example, does a particularly good turn as Ivy, the land girl who wisecracks her way through a firefight. And there's also a mystery to follow. We know from the outset that one of the villagers is a traitor who's been helping the Germans every step of the way. But that doesn't make it any less fun to watch as the rest of the characters reach the same conclusion, and it makes it all the more satisfying when we see how one of them decides to respond.
"Went the Day Well?" is emphatically a product of its time. It is literally a flag-waver (its final image is of a Union Jack fluttering in the breeze), and the patriotism is laid on with a trowel. And it does not forget its public service message either: its overriding aim is to warn its audience that they should always be alert, even if that means mistrusting the familiar. But you don't need familiarity with that kind of context to enjoy it: it's such a tightly-plotted and exciting film that it stands up just as well as simple entertainment.
Despite its age, "Went the Day Well?" never appears dull or old-fashioned - and that sense of modernity is underlined by the quality of the DVD transfer. The film was made in black and white and mono, but both the sound and picture have withstood the ravages of time. The only downside is that no extras are provided. But since you can get hold of the film for less than £5, that should leave you enough for Penelope Hutson's BFI Classics book about the film, which compensates for a lack of extras very well.
Went The Day Well Although in the middle of a bloody world conflict for the second time in the twentieth century, the English film industry took time off from making propaganda films for the War Ministry and released a film that in itself was a bit of propaganda. Based on a Graham Greene story, directed by Alberto Cavalcanti and released to the cinema audiences in 1942, this was a tale of what might have been. I can only imagine the effect it had on the wartime audience as German paratroopers, disguised as British tommy’s, landed nearby a typical English hamlet with the intention of seizing the village for their own invasion purposes. The aid of a “Quisling” (I believe that’s Norwegian for traitor) in the village meant that they were successful and all the villagers were captured. However the resourcefulness of the villagers must have captivated the cinema audience as it was reported that many actually cheered when the villagers started to get the upper hand and the Germans were being killed. Such was the anti German feeling at the time. Hardly surprising really as in reality we were being bombed into oblivion. The day went very well for the villagers with lots of daring do to outsmart the Bosche whilst some paid the ultimate price by sacrificing themselves for the good of the rest or just being killed for doing their duty. The fun of watching these oldies is not just watching a good story unfold but spotting the stars of today as they made their way in the film industry. Thora Hird as a land army girl called Ivy is unmistakably herself as her voice is a dead giveaway. David Farrar as an army officer obviously influenced his English gentleman casting in future years.