The IWM Film Archive is the oldest film archive in the UK, holding over 20,000 hours of film, video and digital material and covering the two World Wars and all conflicts involving British or Commonwealth Forces since the start of the Twentieth Century to the present. Our collection also reflects aspects of civilian life in wartime, military life in peacetime, military exercises and operations.
This film is part of Free
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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From a series of propaganda films made to raise awareness of the risks of idle gossip providing vital information to enemy spies and collaborators. This Ealing Studios production features well-known 1940s actor John Mills, playing a sailor whose girlfriend thoughtlessly blunders away vital wartime secrets. The consequences prove disastrous when his boat next leaves to cross the English Channel.
The so-called ‘careless talk’ campaign was set up in response to security concerns on the home front, where rumours were rife about enemy collaborators living amongst the population. The campaign hoped to encourage the public to be wary of the danger of spreading rumours and giving away information that might be valuable to the enemy. Today, phrases used in the campaign, such as; “careless talk costs lives” and “Keep mum – she’s not dumb” still carry a strong association with wartime Britain. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.