Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. United Kingdom, 1942. British National Films, The Archers. Screenplay by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger. Cinematography by Ronald Neame. Produced by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger. Production Design by David Rawnsley. Film Editing by David Lean. Academy Awards 1942.
Michael Powell was commissioned by the British government to make a propaganda film to help out with the war effort, so naturally he made a movie about the heroism of the Dutch. The film is about six Royal Airforce men who are stranded in Holland after their plane is shot down and must rely on local help in order to find their way back home. The joke here is that these guys never seem in any way bothered by anything; going from hiding in one schoolhouse to hanging out at a new friend’s engagement party, their British dapperness is never ruffled for even a second. Powell not only had these completely benign officers get saved by foreigners, but female ones too: Pamela Brown as a conscientious schoolteacher and Googie Withers as a freedom fighting socialite are both so brilliant you’ll have trouble remembering anyone else in the film. Despite its lowkey humour, the film definitely has some very tense moments as well as the usually beautiful camera work that fans have come to expect from the endlessly fascinating film masters.