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.
Melodrama1943116 minsDirector: Leslie Arliss
James Mason, Margaret Lockwood and Stewart Granger star in the first of the fantastically successful Gainsborough melodramas.
War194576 minsDirector: Sidney Gilliat
John Mills is the soldier who goes AWOL upon hearing of his wife’s affair, returning home to confront Stewart Granger’s home-wrecking spiv.
War1943103 minsDirector: Frank Launder
The finest example of British wartime fictional propaganda follows a group of women who take on factory work to support the war effort.
War194382 minsDirector: Lawrence Huntington
Nazi agents are pitted against a gang of plucky Brits in this exciting comedy-thriller set in a country house where danger awaits a visiting VIP.
Melodrama194699 minsDirector: Herbert Wilcox
Romance blossoms during an air raid in this classic weepie which enacts a tale of wartime love and loss guaranteed to pluck at the heartstrings.
War1946100 minsDirector: Basil Dearden
A realistic recreation of life as a prisoner of war in Germany lends credence to this moving account of wartime survival against the odds.
Drama1983101 minsDirector: Michael Radford
Michael Radford (Il Postino) directs this war-time drama set in Scotland. The passions of a young housewife are aroused by the arrival of an Italian POW.
War197455 minsDirector: Alan Parker
Early directing credit for Alan Parker offering an unsentimental view of wartime London through the eyes of a troubled young man.
War197293 minsDirector: Michael Apted
Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson star in the rarely seen drama about an AWOL soldier who disguises as a woman to avoid capture.
Legal and Courtroom drama194074 minsDirector: David MacDonald
Alastair Sim is in splendid form as a staid, slightly seedy solicitor in this cheerfully patriotic war-time espionage comedy.
War194148 minsDirector: Norman Walker
Henry Foley gave up fishing when his two sons were lost at sea. But when war breaks out, he joins a lifeboat crew, to his wife’s dismay.
Detective drama193964 minsDirector: Fred Elles
A spate of deaths among visitors to a medium requires the special talents of undercover detective Mrs Pym.