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Go to Blazes (1942)

| Short, Comedy
Ministry of Information-sponsored comedy short showing wartime audiences how to deal with the threat of incendiary bombs




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Complete credited cast:
Thora Hird ...


Will comes home to his two-storey house, to find his daughter Elsie reading some school books. He asks where Mother might be, and finds she's off getting home defence lessons. He's been chosen, he tells Elsie, to deliver a speech on this topic. He starts reciting what he intends to say as we segue into scenes of him reacting to an incendiary that's gone through his roof, coming down somewhere upstairs. Will clumsily gathers up his fire fighting equipment, including a shovel, bucket and water pump, all the while never letting go of a frying pan he's been trying to cook bacon in. He finds it's gone harmlessly into his half-filled bath tub, fizzing out. But another time, one's landed atop the peak of his roof, and is burning away. Will arrives at the top with tools ready, but it bores it's way through to the bed room. He scrambles down to it, but just as he gets there, it's burnt through the floor to the parlour below. Dashing down to face it there, he realises it will elude him once ... Written by WesternOne

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Short | Comedy





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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although Walter Forde is credited as director, he always denied it. The actual director is thought to be Will Hay or Basil Dearden See more »


Father: We'll say, for argument's sake, that an incendiary bomb drops in your kitchen.
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Three Cockeyed Sailors (1940) (uncredited)
Music by Ernest Irving
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User Reviews

Firewatch with Mother
5 July 2007 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

Will Hay started his performing career in the music halls, as a comedy schoolmaster who is (of course) outsmarted by his schoolboys. Well before Abbott and Costello wondered Who's on First, Will Hay was doing a routine about a schoolboy named Howe in Wye from Ware.

In his film career, Will Hay -- no relation to the American film censor Will Hays -- usually played minor authority figures (a schoolmaster, a stationmaster, a fire chief) who were incompetent, stupid and usually crooked with it. In real life, Will Hay was something of an intellectual. An amateur astronomer of some real significance, he discovered the White Spot on Saturn and a few other items.

Hay was the perfect choice to star in 'Go to Blazes', an extremely interesting oddity from the dark days of the Blitz. This film cleverly manages to be a genuinely funny comedy, an instructional film, and a propaganda piece (assuring Britons to stay brave and calm) all at the same go.

Hay plays a harried husband who comes home to discover his daughter (Thora Hird, a bit too big for her gymslip) studying conic sections. As there's a firewatch in progress, he boasts of his prowess in extinguishing incendiary bombs. We see Hay in action, in flashback: of course, he's bang incompetent. I laughed heartily as an incendiary on Hay's roof proceeds to burn its way down through each storey of his house, eventually settling in the cellar.

It's no surprise, of course, that a genuine incendiary arrives ... and it's also no surprise that Hay's wife and daughter are cool and confident as they extinguish it, while Hay has no idea of what to do. There's a very British closing gag.

I found this short film absolutely fascinating, not merely for its content but also its context: civilians in wartime Britain were being killed in their own homes by German bombs. 'Go to Blazes', in addition to instructing the public on how to protect themselves, also serves as propaganda to assure them that the situation isn't so hopeless after all. This very funny film is black comedy in the true sense of that term, as audiences were encouraged to laugh at a truly lethal situation which could kill them at any moment. Shortly after 'Go to Blazes' was released, most cinemas and theatres in wartime London were shut down: the Home Office wanted to avoid the danger to homefront morale that would result if a doodlebug hit a theatre with hundreds of people in it.

'Go to Blazes' rates a full 10 out of 10. It's hilarious, and it's more relevant than ever in this post-9/11 age.

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