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WWII at the Pictures

Once the cinemas were declared open for business, the film industry kept the reels turning, serving up a mixed diet of news, morale-boosting propaganda and uplifting entertainment.

Newsreels kept spirits up and relayed vital information, documentaries rigorously explored every aspect of life and work on the home front, and an array of animations and short films imparted practical tips and guidance. Feature films, meanwhile, offered equal parts inspiring wartime stories and escapist fantasy to bring relief from everyday trials. After the war, as memories of horror and grief receded, Britons could look back on their bravery and stoicism with pride, and filmmakers and audiences alike feasted on the rich and resonant stories the war offered.

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Happy FamilyHappy Family

War19399 mins

Summer 1939, and an ordinary family gets an alarming taste of war to come in this little-known Ealing Studios propaganda short.

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Tim Marches BackTim Marches Back

Government sponsored film19442 mins

A Peter Strausfeld animation, encouraging the public to use the telephone more sparingly in wartime.

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Ships with Wings (Film Trailer)Ships with Wings (Film Trailer)

Promotional19412 mins

A trailer for Ealing's wartime drama "Ships with Wings", an all-star actioner about the Navy's Fleet Air Arm.

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The Man in Grey (Film Trailer)The Man in Grey (Film Trailer)

Promotional19433 minsSilent

Gainsborough melodrama trailer, starring the most desirable cast of the period.

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The Silent VillageThe Silent Village

War194336 mins Location: Cwmgiedd

The villagers of Cwmgiedd re-enact a Nazi massacre in Czechoslovakia, in Humphrey Jennings’ unforgettable propaganda film.

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Fear and Peter BrownFear and Peter Brown

Documentary194016 mins

Terror on the home front - literally - in this heady and eccentric brew.

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U.S. And UsU.S. And Us

Advert19432 mins

An American G.I. learns how to brew a proper English cuppa in this jolly wartime ad for Maypole tea.

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Bob in the PoundBob in the Pound

Advert19432 minsSilent

Fun-filled singalong savings ad with a dangerously catchy theme tune.

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Wisdom of the WildWisdom of the Wild

Documentary194012 mins

Fun mixture of natural history and wartime public information.

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Desert Victory (Film Trailer)Desert Victory (Film Trailer)

Documentary19431 mins

Stirring trailer for renowned war documentary Desert Victory - coming to a screen near you!

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A Call for Arms!A Call for Arms!

Government sponsored film19408 minsSilent

A pair of 'nude' dancers find a new way of doing their bit for the boys in this fun propaganda short

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Savings CavalcadeSavings Cavalcade

Promotional194317 mins

An entertaining wartime promotional film for the National Savings campaign thatshoehorns in three variety acts.

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All HandsAll Hands

Public Information Filler194011 mins

A commercially produced Ministry of Information film, explaining how vital information could be carelessly leaked to prying enemy ears on the home front.

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Wicked Witch (Rinso Advert)Wicked Witch (Rinso Advert)

Advert19422 mins

Only a witch would be wicked enough to help Hitler on washing day, warns this fun wartime soap powder ad.

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Post 23Post 23

Documentary194110 mins

A documentary picture of an Air Raid Wardens’ post during the Second World War, demonstrating cooperation between its workers and the community.

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Other Men's LivesOther Men's Lives

Government sponsored film194410 mins

A commercially made Ministry of Information film, explaining how vital information could be carelessly leaked to prying enemy ears on the home front.

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London Can Take It!London Can Take It!

Government sponsored film19409 mins Location: London

Humphrey Jennings and Harry Watt’s famous GPO film is an enduring example of British self-mythology; a hymn to London’s resilience that helped persuade America to join the war.

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How to Fit a Gas MaskHow to Fit a Gas Mask

Public Information Filler19392 mins

Matter-of-fact wartime instruction in how to fit your gas mask efficiently - leaving no margin for error.

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Firewatch DogFirewatch Dog

Government sponsored film19431 mins

An English Bull Terrier warns wartime cinema goers to put their cigarettes out with more care.

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Her Father's DaughterHer Father's Daughter

Government sponsored film19419 mins

Women on the factory floor? An engineer needs convincing that war work is a feminine pursuit.

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The District NurseThe District Nurse

Government sponsored film194212 mins

An indefatigable district nurse crisscrosses her rural patch to tend to the sick at home and on the farm.

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A Job to Be DoneA Job to Be Done

Government sponsored film194010 minsSilent Location: Witney

Hard work on the home front: the story of the 'reserved occupations'.

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Listen to BritainListen to Britain

Government sponsored film194220 mins

Humphrey Jennings and Stewart McAllister's masterly collage of the various people and classes of Britain - at home and at work, at war and at peace - is one of the great films of war-time Britain.

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Minister of the Interior (Vim Advert)Minister of the Interior (Vim Advert)

Advert19432 mins

This Vim ad cleverly adopts the guise of a wartime public information filler.

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Little Miss Muddlehead (Rinso Advert)Little Miss Muddlehead (Rinso Advert)

Advert19432 mins

Use Rinso and help defeat Hitler! The soap brand deploys some savvy wartime advertising.

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Odeon Cinema ClubOdeon Cinema Club

Advert19431 mins

"Is everybody happy? YES!" Children were both seen and heard, loudly singing along to this jolly anthem at Odeon National Cinema Clubs across Britain

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Greenford and Northolt Dig for Victory CampaignGreenford and Northolt Dig for Victory Campaign

19424 mins

An Ealing councillor fervently implores local cinemagoers to Dig for Victory!

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Did You Ever See a Dream Talking?Did You Ever See a Dream Talking?

Comedy19436 mins

Will Hay's 'silly ass' sidekick Claude Hulbert is excellent in this ingenious wartime savings propaganda comedy short.

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The VolunteerThe Volunteer

War194442 mins Location: Denham

Entertaining and evocative Fleet Air Arm drama-doc propaganda piece, written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

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Good-Bye Old YearGood-Bye Old Year

Announcement19381 mins

The glitz and glamour of 1930s Hollywood is evoked in this short film, wishing cinema audiences a Happy New Year, ushering in what proved to be the very dark year of 1939.

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Health in WarHealth in War

Government sponsored film194013 mins

The young, old and infirm are evacuated from Blitz-hit cities in this moving testament to Britain's wartime organisational prowess.

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World Premiere of "Kipps"World Premiere of "Kipps"

Documentary19416 mins Location: Folkestone

Glamour comes to wartime Folkestone as the town hosts its first world film premiere.

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Two Thousand Women (Film Trailer)Two Thousand Women (Film Trailer)

Promotional19442 mins

A pacy trailer for Launder and Gilliat's 2000 Women, about incarcerated women who hide a British airman.

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Suspected Person (Film Trailer)Suspected Person (Film Trailer)

Promotional19422 mins

German trailer for a rare British wartime thriller about love, treachery and a missing 50,000 dollars.

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Flying Fortress (Trailer)Flying Fortress (Trailer)

War19423 mins

This typically energetic trailer for a British-made Warner Bros. wartime drama certainly does its job.

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The WarningThe Warning

Documentary193933 mins

Powerful and sometimes disturbing account of Britain's defences against enemy attack - made six months before WWII.

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Goofer TroubleGoofer Trouble

Public Information Filler19407 mins

Two daft 'goofers' cause trouble by staying outside while an air battle rages overhead in this punchy WWII public information film.

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Wartime Cinema Christmas GreetingWartime Cinema Christmas Greeting

Announcement19401 mins

A thoughtful Christmas message in hope of peace from early in WWII - the absence of loved ones hit hardest at holiday times.

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Film Tax Cinema AdvertisementFilm Tax Cinema Advertisement

Advert19471 minsSilent

A taxing issue for the post-war film industry - cinema owners make their case in this silent plea

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The Weaker SexThe Weaker Sex

War194885 mins

Following one family from 1944 till after the war, this film tells the story of the women who worked to keep the home fires burning - not to mention cleaning the grates, darning socks, feeding a houseful on rations and waving off the uniformed heroes with a brave smile. It's an affecting and affectionate tribute to the vital role women played ensuring that husbands, sons and daughters had something to come home to.

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Cinemagazine No. 8Cinemagazine No. 8

194611 mins

Shell stories from around the world feature in their corporate news magazine for 1946.

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This Was Paris (Trailer)This Was Paris (Trailer)

War19414 mins

A trailer for a war-time feature about fifth columnists

More WWII at the Pictures in our Rentals collection.