Posts Tagged ‘Wartime noir’

Unpublished Story (1942

Dir: Harold French | Cast: Richard Greene, Valerie Hobson, Basil Radford, Roland Culver | UK Drama 82′

The British wartime authorities’ perennial obsession with fifth columnists (‘enemy agents’ were serving as baddies as early as the 1940 George Formby vehicle Let George Do It!) here finds elaborate expression in an ambitious production set in London during the Blitz. It took five credited writers to concoct this frequently hard to follow propaganda piece in which actual footage from the Blitz is adroitly combined with recreated studio footage. Censorship is benignly depicted as an essential part of the war effort (hence the title), while a pacifist organisation called ‘People for Peace’ is revealed to be not simply a Nazi front organisation run by British reactionaries but headed by authentic German ‘sleepers’ who privately converse among themselves in German. (With acts of terrorism in Europe by refugees from the Middle East now becoming almost everyday occurrences, the sequence depicting the arrival of a German agent masquerading as a Belgian refugee has disturbing contemporary resonances.)

Richard Greene and Valerie Hobson are colourless leads, and dependable supporting actors like Basil Radford, Roland Culver and AndrĂ© Morell are generally given remarkably little to do; with the notable exception of Brefni O’Rorke as the editor of ‘The Gazette’, the newspaper the plot revolves around, who gets to deliver the film’s stirring final speech at the fadeout. @Richard Chatten


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