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DVD: Went the Day Well? | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Went the Day Well?

DVD: Went the Day Well?

A fascinating piece of social and cinematic history is digitally remastered

Based on a story by Graham Greene, and filmed as a piece of unofficial propaganda (at a time when the danger of invasion had actually passed its peak), Went the Day Well? tells the story of an English village that’s invaded by German soldiers dressed in British uniforms. At first the invaders maintain their cover with immaculate manners and impeccable English, but after a few slips the game is up and they revert to type, pushing people around, showing a fondness for sausages, and coffee, rather than tea, and shooting the vicar in cold blood.

Of course, the doughty Bramley Enders fight back with quiet courage; but what’s interesting is that it’s not just the solid, upright law-abiding citizens who save the day (although in fact one of them is a traitor), but also, crucially, a slippery, law-flouting local poacher and his young companion. It takes all sorts to make an English village, was presumably the message.

Brazil-born director Alberto Cavalcanti brings to the story touches of the roving documentary camerawork that he learned with the GPO film unit, and the “stars” (in fact the cast is resolutely un-starry) include Mervyn Johns, who went on to work with Cavalcanti on Dead of Night, and a young Thora Hird. Briskly told, digitally remastered and with sparse music by William Walton, Went the Day Well? is a fascinating piece of social and cinematic history that speaks to us from a time when an entire nation was geared up for the brutal but necessary business of killing.

Watch a clip from Went The Day Well?

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