The bomb-torn streets of postwar London are the stage for a ripping boys'-own adventure in this buoyant classic, the first of the great 'Ealing comedies'. When schoolboy dreamer Joe discovers that robbers are planning their crimes using secret codes in a children's comic, the police are unconvinced. So Joe and his friends take matters into their own hands… With the great Alistair Sim as a twitchy comic writer and against-type villain Jack Warner, it's an ageless joy, and the East London and dockland locations are a revelation.
Writer T.E.B. 'Tibby' Clarke drew inspiration from the classic German children's novel Emil and the Detectives, filmed in Germany in 1931, and remade in Britain in 1935. Clarke would be one of the most productive wellsprings of Ealing comedy - he also gave us Passport to Pimlico, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Titfield Thunderbolt, as well as the classic police thriller The Blue Lamp. (Mark Duguid)