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Saloon Bar (1940)

 |  Thriller  |  2 November 1940 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 65 users  
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Against a background of Christmas and the pending arrival of another baby for the landlord, a group of pub locals lead by bookie Joe Harris set out to prove that former customer Eddie ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (play) (as Frank Harvey Jr.) , 1 more credit »
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Title: Saloon Bar (1940)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gordon Harker ...
Elizabeth Allan ...
Mervyn Johns ...
Joyce Barbour ...
Anna Konstam ...
Cyril Raymond ...
Harry Small
Judy Campbell ...
Al Millen ...
Norman Pierce ...
Bill Hoskins
Alec Clunes ...
Eddie Graves
Mavis Villiers ...
Felix Aylmer ...
O.B. Clarence ...
Sir Archibald
Aubrey Dexter ...
Helena Pickard ...
Mrs Small


Against a background of Christmas and the pending arrival of another baby for the landlord, a group of pub locals lead by bookie Joe Harris set out to prove that former customer Eddie Graves is not guilty of the murder for which he is due to be hanged in the morning. Written by Jeremy Perkins <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ealing | based on play | See All (2) »







Release Date:

2 November 1940 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Joan: He behaved like a real gentleman,
[with hands held up, palms forward]
Joan: he took his hands away the moment I asked him.
See more »


The Londonderry Air
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User Reviews

Wonderful Period Ensemble Whodunnit
13 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a thoroughly enjoyable film, compulsive viewing for all who might enjoy drinking in the pre-War atmosphere of London in 1939 and early 1940 just before the Blitz. The film is based on a stage play, a kind of early 'Mousetrap' concept, a whodunnit essentially taking place in a single set. The atmosphere of this saloon bar, where the main characters congregate, is brilliantly conveyed. The film is stuffed full of delightful character actors all doing a great job. The film is well directed by Walter Forde, an experience old-timer, two of whose better known films are 'Rome Express' (1932) and 'Bulldog Jack' (1935). This is quintessentially English, and since things which are quintessentially English barely exist any more, the film has thus become an invaluable archaeological artifact. The film may not be 'multi-cultural', but it is certainly 'multi-social', as every class of society participates in the action and interacts in a manner which will be fascinating to social historians. My wife and I, as old friends of Judy Campbell, were delighted to see her performance in this classic as 'Doris of the Shakespeare', at which she thoroughly excelled as a rather embittered young barmaid from a rival pub. The lead character is an extroverted bookie, played by Gordon Harker, who takes the lead in trying to clear a friend of a murder charge for which he will be executed on the following morning. The condemned man's girlfriend, another barmaid, is played by Elizabeth Allan. She is far less charming than Judy. I sat next to her a couple of times at dinner when she was an old lady and found her vanity really too much to take. It shows in this film. Mervyn Johns is terribly funny in this film, glum and solemn as he sits on 'his stool' and will not get off it for any reason, making wry comments throughout all the action. While everything else is happening, a baby is being born, some scruffy kids are singing Christmas carols (12 year-old Roddy MacDowell amongst them), there is a parody of a feather-headed chorus girl ('he behaved like a perfect gentleman, he took his hands away as soon as I asked him'), and any number of amusing characters and incidents. What happens about the whodunnit aspects must remain a secret, but does not disappoint. This film is a real joy, and should be reissued on DVD so that people can see it.

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