Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Went The Day Well? (1942) - Alberto Cavalcanti

Went The Day Well? rises wonderfully from it's mid-War propaganda roots to quickly become an engaging, entertaining wartime thriller warranting several viewings. The 1942 Ealing Studios production starts as innocently as any rural drama with a truckload of troops entering a village under the auspices of some kind of communications mission. The villagers suspect nothing, and nor do we - the accents come with the stiffest of lips; the only odd behaviour is the scolding of a young boy curious to see what's on the back of the truck under the tarpaulin. As with most films of this type however, where a con is afoot, the audience are told early on that these are in fact Germans in disguise (in a similar vein to Battle Of The Bulge). Curiously, it is the women in the village who have suspicions first, but even they don't cotton on to the traitor in their midst. Ultimately, the Germans' mission is inevitably futile when the villagers seize their chance to take down the troop themselves turning the tables irrevocably to their favour.

For a film with a purpose it not only does what it sets out to do: affirmation of British stoic strength in the face of adversity, but does so without shoving any agenda distastefully down the audience's throat. With the men abroad it's unsurprising that the women take on a lot of the film's strongest roles (Thora Hird taking the strongest, and most frightening) yet these roles don't come with the hardened sense of extreme feminsim they might have in later films dealing with this period. The workmanlike direction from Alberto Cavalcanti ticks the standard clichés and runs through predictable plot arcs without ever seeming tired, or mundane. The photography may be uninspired, but then it doesn't need to be particularly special when the story holds up on its own merits. We know what's going to happen, but I never once felt watching the flick was pointless and with some unintentional comedy thrown into the mix this mixed bag has a little something for everyone. Ok, so the acting may be as wooden as the crosses that adorn the church interior but you get what you expect with this classic gem of a film: excitement, a thrill or 2, some action and some comedy all dished up within 90 minutes. I for one couldn't ask for much more.



Went The Day Well on Wikipedia
Senses Of Cinema article


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