Went the Day Well? (1942)
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When Churchill said we'd fight the Nazis on beaches, landing grounds, fields, streets and hills, he left out the church-yard, manorhouse, pub and village-green. But in this stirring, startlingly violent (for its time) masterwork of WW2 propaganda, that's exactly where the plucky locals of Bramley End engage the enemy. Inspired by a Graham Greene short story, this is a true hidden gem of our national cinema.
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Critic Reviews for Went the Day Well?
One of the most subversive films to come out of World War II, a British drama that was unsettling in its day and is even more so now.
Part paranoid propaganda, part thriller and part quaint period study, Went the Day Well? is an entertaining oddity begging for an update.
Home-front propaganda has rarely seemed so cutthroat or so cunning; for Americans, the chance to see this rarity is an opportunity to indulge in the sort of cinematic ecstasy that makes us obsessed with movies in the first place.
Still truly unnerving, one can only imagine how terrifying it must have been for audiences facing the very real threat of Nazi enslavement.
The rarely seen film, a gem, is loosely based on a 1940 magazine story by Graham Greene.
To look down on the blatant propagandizing of Went the Day Well? is pointless insofar as it disallows the possibility of learning from it, but it's nevertheless difficult to not take certain elements of the film with a grain of salt.
As an effective work of surreptitious World War II propaganda, "Went the Day Well" is instructive on many levels.
The summer's first all-around audience-pleaser arrives this week after 70 years in hibernation.
A sickeningly giddy action thriller that looks forward to Straw Dogs, Inglorious Basterds, and Red Dawn.
A wartime conspiracy thriller, a black-comic nightmare and a surrealist masterpiece in which stoutly English-seeming army types reveal themselves to be Nazis, like the reflected figures turning their backs on us in RenĂ (C) Magritte's mirror.
Fortunately, it's of more than mere historical interest thanks to some well-paced action, enthusiastic acting and the influence of Graham Greene's dark imagination.
Audience Reviews for Went the Day Well?
1942. That is the important date to bear in mind when watching this film. That was when the film was made, and when the UK cinema auidences watching it knew that all that separated them from invasion was a few miles of sea. Imagine the impact it must have had!! Plucky Brits, living in the rural English idyll, threatened by the Hun. Having witnessed their brave fight, the auidences must have come out of the flicks wanting to take on the German army on their own. The comparisons with 'The Eagle Has Landed' are easy to make, but just remember that date of 1942. The threat was real to the people watching it, unlike those watching 'The Eagle' for the very first time. Cracking afternoon entertainment, with a message of its time.More
Went the day well? Now that you mention it, Saturday, May 23, 1942, started off nicely enough in the hamlet of Bramley End with the preparations for a wedding being a particular highlight. Major Hammond(Basil Sydney) creates quite a stir when he and his men show up unannounced for military exercises but everything eventually works out as the vicar(C.V. France) agrees to house the soldiers in the village hall. Unbeknowst to everybody except for Oliver Wilsford(Leslie Banks) because frankly he is a traitorous rat bastard, the soldiers are really Nazis, ordered to secure the village and block communications for a planned invasion of England. However, the villagers start to get suspicious which calls for Plan B.
"Went the Day Well?" might have originally been conceived as just another propaganda movie during World War II to urge the people of England to be ever vigilant and reminding them that no place is truly safe.(For the record, I put a slash through my 7's because my atrocious handwriting needs all the help it can get.) But the material is handled exceptionally well, turning this into an exciting thriller that thrives on the details of village life which makes the sense of loss that much greater in its depiction of ordinary people rising to new heights under extraordinary circumstances.
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