Went The Day Well?

Went The Day Well?

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Optimum Home Entertainment

Release date: July 25th, 2011
Certificate (UK): PG
Running time: 93 minutes

Year of production: 1942

Director: Alberto Cavalcanti
Writers: John Dighton, Angus MacPhail, Diana Morgan
Producer: Michael Balcon

Cast: Elizabeth Allan, Leslie Banks, Thora Hird

Graham Greene’s novels have, for years, provided filmmakers with the opportunity to visualise great moments of intrigue, suspense and espionage on screen. Brighton Rock, The End of the Affair, The Third Man and The Quiet American are all adapted from his stories, and the author’s work was even a topic of discussion in Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko (2001) with The Destructors.

Went The Day Well?

Yet here’s an early one I knew nothing about until its recent restoration and revival at the BFI. Based on the short story The Lieutenant Died Last, it’s set in the small fictitious English village of Bramley End during the Second World War when enemy invasions were a real threat.

A group of British soldiers arrive and are warmly welcomed by the villagers who give them a place to stay and as they settle in, doubts about them start to surface. First there’s the way one of them manhandles a local boy, then it’s the way they mark their 7’s with a line through the middle and eventually it’s the discovery of a bar of Viennese schokolade in the bags of one of the soldiers.


  • BBC Radio 3 The Essay – British Cinema of the 1940s
  • Cavalcanti short film Yellow Caesar

These soldiers are in fact a platoon of German paratroopers and their mission is to place a signalling device in Bramley in preparation for an upcoming invasion. As they round up the villagers into the church hall and take them hostage, even a wedding comes to a halt and the heroic efforts of an elderly priest is cut short by a bullet in the back.

Went the Day Well? gears us up for a battle between the platoon and the villagers when they decide to unite for the common good and take back what’s theirs. It’s not an easy task though and they’ll have to make some sacrfrices but they do it seflessly and with dignity to the very end.

Went The Day Well?

There’s no doubt about it, Went The Day Well? is wartime propaganda from start to finish with the idea that the enemy could be right under your nose. There’s also a strong sense of surrealism too combined with the quaintness of life in Bramley.

With its excellent performances by Thora Hird as Ivy Dawking and Leslie Banks as the village traitor, Went the Day Well? is credited with bringing a bite of realism to British propaganda films and is well worth a look not just for it’s historical content but as a thriller it’s damn fine one.

You might also be interested in these articles:

More a powerful poem than a movie, Terrence Malick’s latest film is a masterpiece. Starring Sean Penn and Brad Pitt, it touches one of the oldest human quests.

Cam Gigandet and Kristen Bell star alongside Christina Aguilera in this musical extravaganza. It’s the story about a struggling Burlesque house in Los Angeles that’s run by Cher.

We started in Kuwait and we drove through the area to these swamps and then linked up with this road and then on An Nasiriyah was our first big fight.

Dominic Walker reviews Certified Copy, directed by Abbas Kiarostami and starring Juliette Binoche and William Shimell, and tells us why it’s “certified dotty”!

Based on Daniel Woodrell’s novel, Winter’s Bone is the story of 17 year-old Ree, searching for her father who put their house up for his bail and then disappeared.