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They Came to a City (1944)

Not Rated | | Drama, Fantasy | 5 February 1945 (UK)
Adapted from a J.B. Priestley play with many of the original actors. The tale of various people who have come to live in an "ideal" city and their hopes and reasons for doing so.


Basil Dearden


J.B. Priestley (play), Basil Dearden (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
John Clements John Clements ... Joe Dinmore
Googie Withers ... Alice Foster
Raymond Huntley ... Malcolm Stritton
Renee Gadd Renee Gadd ... Dorothy Stritton
A.E. Matthews ... Sir George Gedney
Ada Reeve ... Mrs Batley
Mabel Terry-Lewis ... Lady Loxfield
Norman Shelley Norman Shelley ... Cudworth
Fanny Rowe Fanny Rowe ... Philippa (as Frances Rowe)


Nine Britons are transported to a mysterious city where, according to their class and disposition, they find themselves either in an earthly paradise of peace and equality or a hell starved of ambition and riches. From J B Priestley, this fantastical allegory is a striking expression of post-war utopian impulses and among Ealing's most unusual features.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

socialism | See All (1) »


AT LAST...after a quarter of a century...the worthy successor to "METROPOLIS" See more »


Drama | Fantasy


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film's earliest documented telecast occurred Monday 23 April 1945 on New York City's pioneer television station WNBT (Channel 1). See more »


Featured in Sosialismi (2014) See more »


Music selected from The Divine Poem
Music by Alexander Scriabin (as Scriabin)
Played by The London Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Ernest Irving
See more »

User Reviews

How tastes differ!
10 March 2015 | by ben-gosling1944See all my reviews

I usually enjoy malcolmgsw's reviews but this time we have to agree to differ: I consider this, far from being the worst British film, rather amongst the best. Of course, it depends upon what one considers important, how one views our history and the changes in politics. Not long ago, millions of Brits had a vision of a better and more just way of managing things and hopes for a better life for all. This film may have helped the Attlee government gain power the next year, but now all is lost and gone since Clause 4 was thrown out in 1995. The present generation is unhappy but doesn't seem interested in the hopes which this film is concerned with. The acting and the lighting effects are powerful, so it really wouldn't do to sit with one's eyes shut. Of course, if you're hoping for light entertainment and giggles, this film is not for you. It ought to be mentioned that the verse of poetry is taken slightly out of context: 'I dreamed that was the new city of Friends' with a capital 'F', meaning Quakers. It was about the hopes for the founding of Philadelphia in 1681. When a child, Walt Whitman was deeply influenced by a powerful Quaker preacher, and it shows in verses such as this. I can't imagine Whitman would mind his words being applied to this story.

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Release Date:

5 February 1945 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ealing Studios See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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