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Went the Day Well?
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Went the Day Well? More at IMDbPro »

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55 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

A credible representation of what could well have happened.

Author: JBall75487 from Lincolnshire, England.
10 September 2001

I saw 'Went the Day Well' in 1943, as a 12 year old in war-time England.What I remember most about the film is that it was utterly convincing, both in the authenticity of the setting and the quality of the acting,My friends and I were, of course, perhaps less sophisticated and streetwise than the 12 year olds of today, nevertheless, the film left a lasting impression and I, at least, can remember it in a fair amount of detail, even after the passage of nearly sixty years. The least convincing part to us was the fight between the soldiers,English and German, towards the end of the film,located in and around the church - perhaps this was because we had watched too many carefully staged propanganda epics belittling the ability of the Germans ! All in all,though, a film which brought home the fact that the freedom we take for granted can so easily be lost unless we are eternally vigilant.

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54 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Rare propaganda film which ages well

Author: ianginge from manchester, england
23 March 2004

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.

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45 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Great, shocking, little-known British wartime drama.

Author: bensonj from New York, NY
7 December 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film, made when the invasion of Britain was a real possibility, shows what might have happened if the Germans sent an advance force disguised as British soldiers. One expects, in a highly praised wartime drama that's been called brutal, that the Jerries are going to be pretty nasty. But what gives this film its incredible punch, its real power to shock, is in how the ordinary British civilians fight back. This is especially highlighted in three incredible set-pieces that feature typical small-town women, which I hesitate to describe, since the surprise and suddenness is part of the shock. One is unexpectedly killed. The other two kill the intruders with unflinching violence. But it's not just the ferocity of the violence, it's detail of the events, the editing and timing, the development of the characters through little details, the particularity of the sequences, and the realistic reactions of the characters to their own violence that makes the events seem quite real. One sequence involves the vicar's daughter, a thin, plain woman with a forceful personality. She discovers the plot, and finds that the village man who she may have a romantic interest in is a quisling. She deliberately takes a gun, accuses him, and shoots him. Yet, though she's apparently calm and takes steady aim, after the first shot she's enveloped in hysteria, firing again and again as though at a giant alien slug. In fact, in many ways this film bears an uncanny resemblance to the (original) INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS; a small town suddenly taken over by people who look familiar, act familiar, but who, inside, are deeply alien. Of course, this startling effect is achieved at the expense of a certain realism. This troop of 60 or more Germans don't just speak English, they speak the British idiom well enough to fool these canny locals. Their uniforms, their background stories, all are good enough to withstand the extended scrutiny of billeting with families, at least for awhile. The Germans couldn't have found enough men to pull this off, and wouldn't have taken the enormous effort required if they could. Such effort might be expended on one spy, but not on an invading force, which could conceivably have worn British uniforms but only to confuse the enemy in troop movements, etc. The success of the film lies in its details and its ability to draw sharp characterizations of the people in the small town, real people that go beyond standard character-types. It's possible to overpraise the film; it's just a bit flabby here and there, and the sequences showing the failures of various attempts to warn people outside the village are rather too cute. But it's successes are so spectacular that it's a must see!

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41 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

Excellent wartime thriller rises way above it's propaganda roots

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
2 November 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In war time England a group of Engineers are sent to a typically quiet and picturesque English village. However in reality they are an elite group of German soldiers with instructions to secure the village in preparation for a stealth German invasion in several days time. When one of the villagers suspects something is amiss the Germans seize the village and take the residents hostage. With the Home Guard dead the villagers plan to alert the outside world. I watched this film simply because it sounded very familiar to Higgins' The Eagle Has Landed and was curious to see how closely his book 'borrowed' from this. I expected this to be a hollow piece of propaganda given the period and the 'German threat in the homelands' warning to those back home. However this is vastly better than many of the war time movies that merely push an anti-Nazi message. This is actually exciting and is all the better for sudden moments of violence that are genuinely exciting. The heroes get killed! Little old ladies are forced into violent acts and sacrifice that I just didn't expect. One split second scene was so sudden and unexpected that I literally gasped! Of course it can't do this for the whole film and for the most part it is just entertaining as if that's nothing! It lacks the violence of modern war films but the 1940's English atmosphere to the movie just makes the action and the tense feel even more pronounced. The cast are roundly good. The Germans start well but do give in to brutal stereotype before the film is very old. Leslie Banks is excellent, playing against type to great effect and the village cast are all very good including a few famous faces including Harry Fowler and, even more amusingly, Thora Hird. Overall I really enjoyed this. At it's heart it's an enjoyable propaganda piece with a thriller story. However it is stacked with sufficient moments of surprise or unexpected violence to make it stand out from the crowd.

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33 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Superb British Propaganda Film

Author: Glenn Walsh from Belfast
11 December 2002

I have only managed to see 'Went The Day Well' twice and it is an absolute gem, but one that probably wouldn't appeal to many people nowadays. The events are believable and I am sure this film was very effective as wartime propaganda. Superior to 'The Eagle Has Landed,' which definitely shares many elements, starting with the soldiers graves at the beginning of the films. Excellent stuff.

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32 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Suspenseful and inspiring.

Author: Jenny Paxson (jennyp-2) from Culpeper, Virginia
3 April 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The picture begins with a narrator telling how it came to be that a number of Germans are buried here in the graveyard in the quiet English village of Bramley Green. The events that occurred there in the spring of 1942 are then shown in flashback: A platoon of British soldiers arrive who are to be billeted in the village for a few days. Residents are cooperative and gracious, providing lodging and food from their already rationed supply. Before long, suspicions arise. Why do the soldiers write the figure seven with a cross stroke? Why does one of them have a bar of Viennese chocolate? Slowly the community realizes that the enemy is in their midst: the British soldiers are actually German paratroopers. The villagers are rounded up and locked in the church and several attempts to get word to the outside world are thwarted. Then it is discovered that the village squire (Leslie Banks) is a traitor aiding the Nazis. The vicar's daughter (Valerie Taylor) boldly shoots him, the postmistress (Muriel George) whacks her captor over the head with an ax, and the rest of the town joins suit until reinforcements finally arrive. Based on a story by Graham Greene. This film was shown at Cinefest in Syracuse NY in March 2003 and was the hit of the festival. I hope it will be released on home video soon.

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26 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

A brief review of "Went the Day Well"

Author: Nick-312
25 September 1999

For a film made in 1942 this film is fairly hard hitting as it does not shy away from the realities and emotions of warfare. The plot gradually gains pace and the atmosphere is tense as the ordinary English folk rally round to face the professional soldiers of Nazi Germany. The quality of acting is superb throughout and although there are signs of propaganda, it is kept to a minimum and is not overly biased. Highly recommended and very cheap to buy (at least in England it is).

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23 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

no sign of age

Author: toonnnnn from Hartlepool England
8 October 2003

A splendid movie well acted and directed, the story grips you from the start,the film includes self sacrifice and treacherous behaviour.The pace of the movie is fantastic not a dull moment.There is one scene which shows that ordinary decent people when cornered can fight back with a fierce tenacity when their homeland is threatened.This movie is the inspiration behind the eagle has landed and i think it would be a hit if it was remade.

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24 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

"Went The Day Well" vs "The Eagle Has Landed"

Author: reindeer2uk from United Kingdom
6 December 2005

I can't help but think of the similarities between this film and the later production "The Eagle Has Landed" based on the novel by Jack Higgins. Both films concern the capture of a sleepy English village by crack German paratroopers disguised as members of an allied force. In both stories the villagers are herded into the church and held captive, although the duration of captivity in the latter production is relatively short. Also, in the Higgins story, the objective of the German troops is the capture of Winston Churchill, not acting as an advance party probing weaknesses prior to the conquest of Britain.

The beauty of "Went The Day Well" is that is of its time, and the product of a country that was still at war, and reflects the concerns of the British wartime population. If you have an interest in World War Two and like black and white films, then by all means see this film.

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20 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

An intelligent propaganda film that deserves to be seen (spoilers)

Author: Jim Griffin ( from Portishead, England
25 July 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Went The Day Well is a British propaganda piece from the Second World War that manages to find depth beyond it message. The plot is inventive and, for the most part, chillingly convincing. Beginning at an unknown time in its future, the film starts with a quaint talking-to-camera moment as the audience is welcomed to the village of Bramley End. From there, we are taken back to a wartime Whit Sunday, as a troop of soldiers come to the village to set up their defences. We soon realise that the soldiers are not English, but German, and with the co-operation of a respected member of the community are preparing to take the village as the first step of a country-wide invasion. With fifty years of hindsight and no first-hand experience of life on the home front, the danger can hardly be imagined, and the fear it must have inspired in the contemporary audience cannot be reproduced. But while its power is no doubt diminished, it still works as a tense and involving thriller.

There are a few weak points that undermine its credibility; the Germans' English is probably too perfect and they seem too familiar with colloquialisms, and having a radio operator who can barely understand English wasn't the brightest idea, but these are minor complaints against a film that is plausible throughout.

Given its release date, it is rather daring in its depiction of the Nazi soldiers, showing them as evil but not sadistic. It could easily have gone down the route of having them rape and murder the villagers for their own amusement, but it shows restraint in having them kill only those who are seen as immediate threats to their plan. Indeed, there is a cutting reference to the exaggerated propaganda that shows Nazis happily sticking babies on pitchforks. There is balance, too, in its depiction of the French. While two characters discuss their early surrender we are given both points of view; first condemnation for their perceived cowardice, then sympathy at the realisation that they are now living under Nazi rule, a fate deserved by no one. To find such balance in a mid-war movie is refreshing.

The characters are warm and convincing, if a little clichéd, and there is a genuine sense of community within the village that helps us to feel sorrow for the few that are murdered. Here, again, the film shows a degree of courage in killing off the best characters without hesitation. A particularly touching moment comes when one of the villagers realises the man she loves is the traitor, and knows she has to stop him herself. Without the depth of characterisation, this would have meant nothing.

Cynicism would tell us to laugh at how it champions the courage of normal people, but such thoughts should be ignored and replaced with respect for those who lived through a horror we can barely imagine. To its generation, Went the Day Well was a warning to be ever vigilant; to ours it is a tense thriller that reminds us how lucky we are. It can hardly be called a classic, but it seems a shame that, at the time of writing, there are no other comments or reviews on the database. It is inventive, thoughtful, tense, funny, and charming, and deserves to be held in higher regard.

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