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Miss Grant Goes to the Door (1940)
   

“The front line is in every home these days”

Brian Desmond Hurst completed this short 7 minute documentary for the Ministry of Information in rapid time on 2 July 1940* and it was screened in cinemas throughout the UK following its release on 5 August 1940.

It is the summer of 1940 when the United Kingdom feared invasion by Germany. Two spinsters (Caroline and Edith) have their morning tea interrupted by an air raid “these air raids are a damned nuisance” and then hear church bells “Church bells- that means we’re invaded”.

A German Paratrooper lands in their garden and the glimpse of his face through the window will have stayed in the audience’s mind throughout the summer of 1940. The film develops with Edith and Caroline cleverly uncovering a German spy.

As with all Ministry of Information films it provides direct instructions, tips and subtle messages.

On protection during air raids we are told “The people who were hurt recently weren’t in their shelter”. Intelligence is provided about how to spot a German Paratrooper and his ammunition container (including his ‘flame’ grenades). Subtle messages are delivered on keeping maps locked away, disabling vehicles and on any captured German the message is clear “I wouldn’t trust one of you an inch”.

The Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) are the protectors of Edith and Caroline. They expertly destroy the German Parachutists ammunition container (as per the briefing seen earlier in the film) and capture the German spy. The film just missed out on renaming The LDV in its new form The Home Guard and by its release date on 5 August 1940.

The closing lines sum up the stiff upper spirit of the day which Hurst had developed in his earlier The Lion Has Wings (1939).

"Well if it had not been for you the Jerries might have got away with it. The great thing ladies is that you kept your heads... You know, the front line is in every home these days".

The British Film Institute film biography comments on Miss Grant Goes to the Door “Some officials in the War Office considered the film too frightening, but its premise- the enemy in the heart of a docile English Village- was later reused in the most famous ‘invasion’ film of the war, Ealing’s Went the Day Well (1944)”.

To see the film, scroll down and click the clip below. Film provided by the kind permission of the British Film Institute now acting on behalf of the original Government film maker

*Anthony Aldgate and Jeffrey Richards, Britain Can Take IT: British Cinema in the Second World War, p. 123.

Production company Ministry of Information

Studio D&P Studios

Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst

Produced by Brian Desmond Hurst

Screenplay, dialogue & assistant direction Rodney Ackland

Story by Thorold Dickinson and  Donald Bull

Starring Mary Clare Marita Hunt Manning Whiley  Ivan Brandt Caroline Edith The Officer The Local Defence Volunteer

Edited by Ralph Kemplen

Photography Bernard Browne

Sound AW Watkins Western Electric

Production Manager Jack Gilling

Release date 5 August 1940

Running time 7 min.

 

 

Courtesy of the Allan Smith Collection

   

Click the link below to watch the seven minute film

 
   
 
   

 
Opening titles for wartime public information film Miss Grant goes to the Door (1940) - Courtesy of the Allan Smith Collection
 
   

 

Miss Grant confronts a German undercover agent - Courtesy of the Allan Smith Collection

 
   

 
German Paratrooper appears at Miss Grant's window - Courtesy of the Allan Smith Collection
 
   
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