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Went the Day Well?

Released Jun 24, 1944 1h 36m Drama List
93% Tomatometer 14 Reviews 90% Audience Score 500+ Ratings
Residents of an English village unwittingly welcome Nazi soldiers who intend to take over their town. Read More Read Less
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Critics Reviews

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Kenneth Turan Los Angeles Times 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. Rated: 4/5 Oct 14, 2011 Full Review Tom Long Detroit News Part paranoid propaganda, part thriller and part quaint period study, Went the Day Well? is an entertaining oddity begging for an update. Rated: B Jul 15, 2011 Full Review David Fear Time Out 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. Rated: 5/5 May 18, 2011 Full Review Matt Brunson Film Frenzy Incredibly exciting and extremely suspenseful. Rated: 4/4 Apr 17, 2020 Full Review Nathanael Hood Nate Hood Reviews Its jingoistic nastiness and nationalist aggrandizement makes this film exactly the kind of nonsense Powell & Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was made in response to. Rated: 5/10 Jan 12, 2019 Full Review MFB Critics Monthly Film Bulletin Graham Greene has written a good story but the scripting is indifferent, banal at times, and the direction lacks cohesion. Feb 17, 2016 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Matthew B The best war movies are often those that contain something to shock or surprise the viewer. Went the Day Well seems at first to a flag-waving propaganda movie. It contains a good deal of exciting adventure, and the attitudes towards foreigners held by the villagers are cheerfully xenophobic. Characters make slighting references to the Germans, the Italians, and even the occupied French. Based on a Graham Greene story, the film showed Germans taking over a small British village 30 years before The Eagle Has Landed covered similar material. The movie was made as a propaganda piece during World War Two, intended to warn audiences to look out for Fifth Columnists (people living inside the country working for the enemy), and to encourage everyone to do their bit for the war effort. Went the Day Well is supposedly set after the war has ended and we have defeated Germany, even though this had not happened at the time. It therefore contains events that never happened, such as Germany launching a full-scale invasion of Britain and being defeated. This reflects fears that people had at the time that Germany would indeed invade Britain, and we needed to be prepared. The threat was beginning to recede by the time the film was released, but we do get a picture of the anxieties of the age. So what is it that makes Went the Day Well a superior or surprising war movie? The answer to this is that the cosy and cheerful setting of the story belies a narrative that contains a number of tough and brutal incidents that leave us gasping with surprise. The film opens with an old man talking in a friendly way to the camera. He is from the village of Bramley End, ‘a pretty place' whose name that suggests afternoon tea and village greens. However as he tells us Bramley End is the only part of England that was ever taken by the Germans, and he is proud of the part his village played in their defeat. This gives us the false impression that we are going to view another blandly cheerful account of plucky British people standing up to the enemy. Indeed our early sight of Bramley End shows us that it is a pleasant and very ordinary place. It is a small idyllic corner of England, with the sound of birdsong and gramophone records playing ‘There'll always be an England". The casually-dressed down-to-earth locals are dismissive of the idea of Germans living among them, little realising that their genial village squire Oliver Wilsford (Leslie Banks) is a traitor who is working against them, or that he will be assisting a troop of Germans who are posing as English soldiers. It is easy to decry the villagers for their slowness to realise what is going on, but their complacency is not down to stupidity or smugness. They understandably do not imagine that their own small locale would be the first place in a planned invasion of the country. This reflects the movie's intended message to the public – to watch out for any signs of treachery or attack because it may come in an unexpected place. As the Germans take over, there are some shocking deaths on both sides, with many of the respectable villagers being brutally killed, or ruthlessly killing German soldiers. This is in line with the message of the film that everyone can play their part in fighting off a German attack. It is not only the menfolk, but the women too who can fight to keep the Germans at bay. All sections of society will need to come together to fight off the Germans. This includes the old and the young – an elderly father and the juvenile George are both shot, but not fatally. It also includes the rich and the poor. The lady of the manor and the local poacher both risk their lives to save children. However while the movie has propaganda value, it thankfully holds this lightly. There are no long patriotic speeches to drag the action down. The focus is on telling the story, and the story is a fantastic yarn that is both shocking and rousing in turn. I wrote a longer appreciation of Went the Day Well (with spoilers) on my blog page if you would like to read more: Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/28/23 Full Review Audience Member An English village is taken over by Germans in 1942, holding the townspeople hostage in preparation for an invasion. Nothing exceptional about it, aside from the Germans being more ruthless than usual for this type of early film. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member There is more to this film than entertainment. Released during WW2 this was intended to remind the UK population to be suspicious of strangers as there really was a fear that German troops could land in the UK. Given this backdrop I think the film does a very good job of getting its message across and is also entertaining at the same time. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Audience Member A well put together propaganda movie as the little British town pushes back against the German forces. From 1942 and designed to stir up passions for the fight against the Axis, it hits the mark well. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member Great WW2 drama. May 1942. The small English village of Bramley End is visited by a detachment of about 60 Royal Engineers. They are ostensibly there on an exercise but are in actual fact a detachment of German paratroopers, the advance guard of Hitler's invasion of England. Some of the villagers figure out their true identities but before they can do anything all the villagers are held prisoner by the Germans. Will the villagers be able to get word out of the threat? The fate of England depends on them. Great WW2 drama. Very realistic and topical for its time: at the time the threat of invasion was very real. Solid, plausible plot. Surprisingly dark and gritty - no Hollywood heroics, no easy win for the good guys, no empty casualty list on the Allied side, no characters that aren't expendable. It's all very real. Yes, it is ultimately a propaganda movie (it was made in 1942), so the Germans are shown as one-dimensional heartless fiends. This, and the rather badly staged, cavalierly acted, battle scenes, would be the only negatives. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/20/23 Full Review Audience Member Adapted from a Graham Greene short story, this British film (from Ealing Studios) presents a hypothetical for the home audience. What if the Germans successfully invaded a country village in the UK? The plot sees German soldiers well-trained in English and British culture arrive in Bramley End disguised as British soldiers needing to billet for a few days for some "exercises". Of course, they are welcomed by the locals - and particularly Leslie Banks, who plays a member of the Fifth Column (working for the Nazis) but who is nevertheless the local organiser for the town's defences. The Germans plan to set up some equipment that can disrupt communication networks in advance of a real invasion by their armed forces. After a few mistakes on the part of the Nazis (a chocolate bar with a German brand is discovered), the locals start to get suspicious - but it is too late and they are rounded up and held captive in the local Manor house. What unfolds then is a story of British pluck and gumption, as the motley assortment of locals seek to escape and alert those outside the town to their plight. Director Alberto Cavalcanti (a Brazilian who was regular for Ealing in the Forties, including participating in spooky horror anthology Dead of Night, 1945) handles everything with verve and there is nary a dull moment. Of course, the British community was probably beyond worrying that the Nazis would invade in 1942 (because the Battle of Britain had been won) but Hitler was not yet vanquished (nor the extent of his crimes revealed) when this film was released. As a paranoid fantasy of the first rank, even today it can produce a shudder when you imagine "what if". Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/04/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Went the Day Well?

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Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis Residents of an English village unwittingly welcome Nazi soldiers who intend to take over their town.
Alberto Cavalcanti
Michael Balcon
John Dighton, Diana Morgan, Angus MacPhail
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
Jun 24, 1944, Limited
Rerelease Date (Theaters)
May 20, 2011
Release Date (Streaming)
Mar 17, 2020
1h 36m
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