Went the Day Well? (UK - BD RB)
Marcus just found out those bleedin' Nazis snuck in to his town in 1080p....
Bramley End, an idyllic British town during the Second World War and a bunch of soldiers have just arrived on a mission to prepare the town for a potential German invasion. The soldiers are welcomed with warm greetings but after a few careless slips in their stories these uniformed men actually turn out to be those bleedin' Nazis on an undercover mission. Now it’s time for us Brits to stand up and stop the Jerrie’s from winning the war.
In another Ealing propaganda film to get the British cinema goers to hate on those Germans a little bit more and be ready to fight even in the most routine of circumstances, Went the Day Well? really lays on the “keep your eyes peeled” instructions for if those sneaky Nazis found a way to secretly infiltrate your community. With little things like looking out for the continental way of writing numbers (elongated fives and lines through sevens—both dead giveaways apparently) or housing foreign chocolate in their backpacks, this movie gives us pointers on how to spot the enemy and when they take over it teaches us never to give up the fight.
When the Nazis reveal themselves they go from fine friendly pretend English soldiers to full on demons. Heartlessly threatening to kill kids, betraying people they’ve been friends with in the town, shooting down some home guards on their bikes in cold blood and treating their prisoners like animals. This stuff is actually quite dark compared to a lot of old black and whites, especially in regards to some of the Nazi killings from the normal townsfolk, and even if the English characters keep calm and carry on it still paints the Nazis as pretty sinister underhand folks, despite the fact they can be overcome by post office workers, spinsters and a bunch of kids.
The last batch of Ealing titles I reviewed were DVDs and they were a mixture of grainy, flickering and soft transfers which, while slightly cleaned up, didn’t exactly sell themselves as poster children for restorations. Here in an HD transfer that proudly advertises its restoration as the film opens is a whole different story. This is a seventy year old movie that had a lot of attention and outside of the odd speck and artefact looks bloody good. The image is sharp, surprisingly so in places and the transfer has a real depth because of it. The opening scene with Mervyn Johns showing us the gravestone for the Germans has an almost 3D effect to its sharpness. Texture of jackets and army uniforms are a lot more noticeable and there’s even a bit where there’s a baby crying and you can see it has a thoroughly wet bottom causing the desired effect.
There’s still a sense of the grain though it’s more part of the image than something that blankets it and while deep black levels are few and far between the image is still very impressive for the age of the movie and a hell of a step up from the Ealings I watched a few weeks back.
Again this area is a noticeable step up from the Ealing DVD releases. The continuous hiss is gone from the audio and what we have instead is a noticeably crisp, clear audio track that, while far from dynamic, captures the charm of the era’s sound extremely well. There’s not much in the way of atmosphere and the sound effects are more piercing that effective but this was still a whole lot more pleasant an audio experience than what the Ealing DVDs offered up.
With HD comes features and while they are not plentiful they are quite interesting. The first is a short film by the film’s director Alberto Cavalcanti, called Yellow Caesar (22:21 SD) which is a bit of a pop at Mussolini.
Next up is a fascinating audio featurette from BBC Radio 3 ‘British Cinema of the Forties’ (14:08) which is a brief history of Ealing and then a detailed account of what Went the Day Well? set out to achieve in the war era.
Went The Day Well? was an impressive upgrade for a seventy year old British movie and all of the failings from the recent Ealing DVD releases suddenly don’t feel all that unavoidable anymore. The film itself is a quaint look at a bad situation but is a nice example of the cinema of the era so it’s easy to just sit back and enjoy. Fans of the film should be pleased with the release and those who might fancy seeing an old film treated well in HD might like to check it out too.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
General viewing, but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children
Release Date: 25th July 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono English
Subtitles: English HoH
Extras: Short Film, BBC Radio 3 Audio Featurette
Easter Egg: No
Director: Alberto Cavalcanti
Cast: Leslie Banks, Mervyn Johns, Basil Sydney, C.V. France, Valerie Taylor, Thora Hird, David Farrar
Genre: Drama and War
Length: 93 minutes
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