A tribute to the courage and resiliency of Britons during the darkest days of the London Blitz.

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(uncredited), (uncredited)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Quentin Reynolds ...
Commentator (voice)
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Storyline

Reporter Quentin Reynolds narrates and comments on the fortitude, courage, and perseverance of London civilians during the months of bombing by German air forces in the Second World War. Documentary footage of air-raid shelters, fire brigades, and decimated structures illustrate the plight and the strength of the citizens of London. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | War | Short

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 December 1940 (Portugal)  »

Also Known As:

Britain Can Take It!  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included in Warner Home Video's 2007 DVD release of The Fighting 69th (1940). See more »

Quotes

Commentator: [loud explosions of bombs and anti-aircraft are heard on the soundtrack] These are not sound effects. This is the music they play every night in London, the symphony of war.
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Connections

Featured in War Stories (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No.2: A London Symphony
Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams (as Vaughan Williams)
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User Reviews

A Proud and Indomitable People
22 February 2013 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

The GPO Film Unit was set up in 1933 with the principal aim of producing short documentary films publicising the work of the British General Post Office; the famous "Night Mail" is perhaps their best-known such film. During the thirties, however, they also made a number of documentaries on other subjects, such as "North Sea" about the fishing industry. After the outbreak of war in 1939 the Unit's main purpose was to make propaganda and information films about the war effort; after 1940 it was renamed the Crown Film Unit, emphasising the fact that it was no longer primarily concerned with the GPO.

"London Can Take It!" was one of the last films the unit made under its original name, and deals with the German "Blitz" against London in the autumn and winter of 1940. (The term "Blitz" is, strictly speaking, a misnomer deriving from a misunderstanding of the German term "Blitzkrieg", or "lightning war", but it is the name by which the German strategic bombing campaign has become universally known in Britain). It was made with two purposes in mind. The first is to uphold British morale by demonstrating that the bombardment was having no effect other than to strengthen the British people's determination to fight. (The unit made another, similar, film around the same time, "The Front Line", about the will to resist of the people of Dover, the English town closest to the European coastline and a frequent target for German bombing or shelling). The second was to influence public opinion in the still-neutral USA, where the film was widely distributed. An American journalist, Quentin Reynolds, was chosen as the narrator; the film- makers clearly felt that American audiences would respond more favourably to a commentary in a familiar accent.

This is not "atrocity propaganda" concentrating on the suffering of the innocent and the supposed bestial cruelty of the enemy. There was a backlash against that sort of propaganda in Britain following its over- use in the First World War, even though the Nazis seemed to be doing everything in their power (far more, in fact, than did the Kaiser's armies) to justify the old "Beastly Hun" slogans of 1914-18. The film opens with scenes of Londoners commuting home in the evening, and then concentrates on the work of the British air defences and emergency services in responding to the German attacks. It is far more a celebration of British courage and resilience than it is a denunciation of Nazi barbarism.

The film did not, of course, persuade America to enter the war; it took Pearl Harbor to do that. In some respects, however, it can be seen a highly successful propaganda. It was directed by two of the Unit's most experienced directors, Humphrey Jennings and Harry Watt, and provides a series of vivid and unforgettable images of the Blitz- the "white fingers" of the searchlights against the night sky, the fire engines racing to put out the blazes, the people sheltering in the tube stations. It was images like these which helped to strengthen British morale by reinforcing the 'stiff upper lip' self-image of a proud and indomitable people.


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