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A wartime cottage on a Scottish estate becomes a focus of attention when not only the new tenant but a London evacuee and a downed fighter pilot all move in. The interest may not be unconnected with the fact that the landowner is also a key British military inventor. For a start, the butler is obviously a Scotland Yard flatfoot. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
Enjoyable wartime 'thriller' which could only have been made in Britain
An enjoyable piece of British wartime entertainment, probably to be appreciated more now than by audiences at the time, (who would have found it very 'stagey' and lacking in action, I suspect). The plot is nothing in particular and its stage origins are all too apparent in the set locations, which cover the cottage of the title acting as a lodging house, home for evacuated children from London and a military hospital (????) whilst, up at 'the Big House', there is a 'top-secret' research laboratory, (which you know is 'top secret' as one of the (numerous) doors has a sliding panel in it),(but which actually seems to have more people entering and leaving it in the course of the film than the lounge of the 'Dog and Duck'), country gentry residence and garden fête venue. The real strength of the film, though, is its very strong cast. Leslie Banks is quite watchable on as the lead and John Mills is his usual, (for the period), photogenic, brylcreemed RAF fighter pilot hero, (or IS he?), who delivers in the usual sound manner. George Cole makes his first film appearance as one of two Cockney scamps evacuated to the 'cottage', (although the other one disappears from view entirely after the first five minutes!), and one can already see him mentally in a mini-sheepskin coat and with a cigarillo in hand as he begins his apprenticeship for greater glories to come in his career. Alastair Sim is, as usual, extremely good value for money and always watchable. The REAL star, though, I thought, was Jeanne De Casalis as the dotty 'Lady of the Manor', showing marvellous comic timing, interacting with all the rest of the cast flawlessly, (catch her expression when the little girl who has just handed her a bouquet of flowers at the opening of the fête wants it back!), and having me in stitches with her spoonerisms, ("Are you the lad with the manor? I'm sorry, I meant the man with the ladder?"), and, above all, her speech opening the fête; ("In the words of our dear Prime Minister, never was so much owed by so few to so many"). Somehow, one just cannot see film-makers of the time doing the same to speeches of their leader in the Kremlin! I shall certainly watch out for any other films starring this lady.
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