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|Index||28 reviews in total|
An absolutely excellent thriller from the golden age of British SF filmmaking. Relying on tension and character rather than special effects, the film depicts a fevered manhunt for a scientist threatening to blow up London with a small A-bomb. Whereas other films would've easily dropped into stereotype, this film took the trouble to depict all the major characters as three-dimensional. Not to be missed.
Someone gets hold of an atomic bomb and decides to resort to blackmail
. Boy I haven't seen a movie like this for almost a whole week . Can't
story tellers think up something new ? Hey wait a minute the
blackmailer is a white English guy called Professor Willoughby and
SEVEN DAYS TO NOON was made in 1950 !
What can I say about this underrated British masterpiece ? It gives a whole new meaning to the word " Groundbreaking " , every time you see a movie like TRUE LIES featuring a bunch of nutters trying to nuke a city you know where they got the idea from . What makes SEVEN DAYS TO NOON stand out from the movies that followed it is the way it's written and directed . it'd be so easy for Willoughby to be a complete raving headcase but he's written in such a way you'll believe he existed in real life , he's someone who became a scientist to improve the lot of humanity and because of politicians he finds his work being used for destructive means . Do I see hints that this character influenced Nigel Kneale when he wrote his Quatermass stories ? Willoughby's well thought out arguments are interesting even though you might not agree with them .The scenario is helped even further by casting Barry Jones in the role , Jones being an actor who I'd no knowledge of hence I wasn't watching a well known face doing an acting performance I was watching a scientist with serious internal dilemmas . The reality is heightened even further by the Boulting brothers directing in the style of a documentary very similar to the way Fred Zimmerman later directed DAY OF THE JACKAL
As much as I've praised it there are one or two flaws . One is I couldn't take seriously the idea that the government would announce the truth and then evacuate London . Of course Willoughby not being a terrorist is essential to the plot , he won't detonate the bomb if alerted but again the government of the day would know this so why evacuate ? Think about it: Would he be more likely or less likely to press the button if there's ten million Londoners still in the city . I also found Prof Willoughby's ultimate fate very contrived
One other point of interest of this movie is that you're aware of how everything is different in Britain over the preceding decades . They'd be no need to stick posters all over London because television has become the medium for communication , ration books disappeared in 1952 and Britain still had a big enough army to spare four divsions to search for one man , so as a period piece alone SEVEN DAYS TO NOON makes interesting viewing
As a footnote the montage scenes of the soldiers combing London for Willoughby were reused for Hammer's cinema version of THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT . What makes this even more interesting is that the screenwriter of SEVEN DAYS TO NOON James Bernard ( Who won an Oscar for this screenplay along with Paul Dehn ) composed the music for THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT
A wonderful picture of London in the 50s, and an insight into the way people behaved, and were treated, during the war - patient crowds sitting on railway platforms waiting to be evacuated (Come along, ma! No, lad, you can't take that chicken!). I can't see or hear the married couples calling each other "darling" that another reviewer complained of - there's an engaged couple and he calls her "darling" about twice. Watch out for Joss Ackland as an eager copper and Jonathan Cecil as a young officer. The aging "actress" is simply wonderful and the relationship between her and Prof. Willingdon quite touching. ("He was a gentleman and I treated him as such - as he did me!") Lovely to see Joan Hickson as a cat-loving landlady, living in a house untouched for fifty years and crammed with Victorian nicknacks. What would they be worth now!
An excellent suspense thriller! Kindly old Prof Bullington (Barry Jones) gives the British government an ultimatum- unless they cease all atomic testing by the weekend, he will set off an A-Bomb in the center of London. Andre Morell heads the task force to find "the needle in one helluva haystack." Done in a documentary style that shoves the details and urgency of a great manhunt onto the audience. However, the human element of the story (i.e what Bullington's daughter has to go through, the dear sweet ol' actress Bullington holds captive, and the mass evacuation of London) is not lost for a millisecond. Superb acting (Especially by Morell and Jones) and writing. Do not miss!!
An absorbing tale, well-told.
The big picture - London being evacuated, Prime Ministerial meetings, military operations - are contrasted with the anti-hero's attempts to evade detection among the city's ordinary people. His encounters with a seedy land-lady (brilliantly played the late Joan Hickson), and a fading second-rate actress, are depicted in fine detail.
But the film never gets bogged down - whenever the pace threatens to slow-up the scene cuts to racing police cars, thundering army convoys, or shrieking steam trains.
Carefully photographed set-pieces, solid acting all round, and a tense climax. Top stuff.
The Boulting Brothers stray from their usual cheery British comedy
films to make this effective and thoughtful thriller. Leaving the
plotting to one side, it is remarkable as, at that time, the Government
was laying the basis for the U.K.'s independent atomic deterrent and
the effects of Atomic and Nuclear testing were never discussed. (ask
the poor soldiers who watched the tests in Australia!) The issue is
never resolved, and in the end the Professor can't make his case
Part of the film shows the evacuation of London. It harks back to the great evacuations of 1939/4 and invokes the same spirit. Oddly enough, Wartime studios had not portrayed the Home Front (other than nods to Fire Services or War-Work)and perhaps this is a belated look back. It does show one incident that would never have passed the wartime censor's pencil- the shooting of looters.
Other cultural notes: How easy it was for the studios to clear London even then the most traffic congested city in England, and to get the army to lend hundreds of personnel (and demonstrate their efficiency). And the great attraction of the old 1950's films: glimpses of bomb sites, long lost street scenes and forgotten buildings.
Watch it and remember its been 55 years since this film was made and 7/7. I don't think the genre was attempted again. Instead Studios turned to Sci-Fi ( a thin disguise for the external Russian menace).
Seven Days To Noon is another masterpiece from the Boulting Brothers
and, as you would expect is superbly written and directed.
The much-under-rated Barry Jones is simply wonderful as the kindly professor with a moral dilemma. The cast succeeds in maintaining the tension nicely and Andre Morell is particularly convincing as the Superintendent, however I feel the most impressive part is the documentary-style photography, which allows the viewer a most interesting and revealing snapshot of post-war London.
Anyone who enjoys the classic English dramas of the 40s and 50s will love this.
Not to be missed.
Please somebody bring it out on DVD soon!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Despite a long and active career, which included amongst other things supplying the off-screen 'voice' of Lord Haw Haw in Twelve O'Clock High and creating the role of Socrates in the Broadway production of Maxwell Anderson's Barefoot In Athens, Barry Jones was relatively unknown to cinema-goers in 1950 which made him an ideal choice for Professor Willingdon who, well-shod in London, intends to detonate a nuclear device in its centre unless the Prime Minister agrees to issue a statement prepared by Willingdon. This is one of those British films that DO stand up half a century later which is not, of course, the same as saying they are without flaws - for one thing we never see Willingdon until he has stolen the nuclear device, left home, wife and daughter and made his way to London. What we feel the loss of is a sense of seeing him being slowly driven from brilliant scientist and nondescript family man to someone prepared to unleash devastation on a great capital city. Joan Hickson and Olive Sloan are both solid in support as is Andre Morrell, charged with the task of finding Willingdon but others characters, Willingdon's daughter, his colleague and son-in-law-in-waiting are cheapest cardboard cutouts. Overall the pace is the thing that keeps it interesting, that and the period 'feel' of a lost London. Definitely worth a look.
Seven Days To Noon is ironically one of those films that has grown into
the times rather than be dated. It's certainly a relevant film given
the threat of nuclear terror today.
But back in 1950 I don't believe the technical expertise was there so that Barry Jones or anyone else could have put a device like that in a briefcase. Take a look at pictures of Fat Man and Little Boy the code names for the weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those things could not have fit in a briefcase and developments hadn't advanced that far in five years. Now sad to say it actually could be done.
Barry Jones is an atomic scientist who is suffering from fatigue and overwork and a questioning mind about what exactly he's developing. His mind snaps and he takes one of the weapons Great Britain has been developing and sends a letter to the Prime Minister. Issue a statement you'll stop the program or he's going to explode his package on Sunday at high noon.
That sets up a manhunt for Jones throughout the United Kingdom, but especially of course in London. His note does specify the seat of the government. Andre Morrell as a Scotland Yard Inspector, Hugh Cross as one of his fellow scientists who will have to disarm the device once located, and Sheila Manahan as his daughter lead the search for Jones and the package of destruction he has.
Despite the fact that it was a technological impossibility in 1950, Seven Days To Noon is still an effective thriller of a film, worthy of a Hitchcock. It's interesting that they came close to getting Jones a few times before they do catch up. Best in the film is Olive Sloane the frowzy former music hall entertainer who Jones holds as a hostage for a while. She wants to do her bit as well as she's trying to get to Aldershot to entertain the troops.
Seven Days To Noon got an Oscar for Best Screen Story. It remains one of the few films that actually grew technologically and became more relevant now than when it first came out.
I have seen it several times & find something new each
A definite classic & the acting superb-details good too
Loved the fading actress & her little King Charles Spaniel
Victor Madden in one of his early films & dear Joan Hickson just added to the film content
Simply loved it
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