21st of July, 1942
Fifth Summary of Films Correspondents' Reports on M.O.I. Films
(Released between 23rd February and 16th March, 1942)
“A TALE OF TWO CITIES”
“VICTORY OVER DARKNESS”
The number of Films Correspondents' reports on which this summary is based shows an increase over the number of reports represented, in previous summaries. The total number for this summary is 170: for the last summary (25th June) the total was 133: for the summary before that (12th May) it was 117.
I. LAND GIRL
37 reports have been received.
The majority reaction of Correspondents was one of mild approval .
Their reactions may be classified as follows:-
The following points were commented on by a number of Correspondents:
(a) The intention of the film (2)
19 Correspondents realised that the film was intended to show “the use of the Land Girl, and to dissolve the prejudice of potential recruits, the farmers and public opinion”.
“It indicated very clearly that even in face of considerable prejudice girls are winning, and are in many places now eagerly sought for farm work”.
“It certainly showed what a fine job the Land Girls are doing in connection with actual farming of the land”.
1 Correspondent complained of being unable to see the point.
(b) Propaganda (15)
9 Correspondents did not consider the film good propaganda .
“All the prejudice and scepticism which is the Land Girl's lot was triumphantly asserted in this firm, and the rather bleak setting was not inspiring. Propaganda value nil”.
Some of them gave their reasons, as follows:-
“Lack of friendliness and enthusiasm” on the farmer's part. (4)
The lack of variety in the work. (3)
“The hard heavy work”. (3)
The “loneliness of the life”. (2)
5 Correspondents considered it good propaganda , without giving their reasons.
1 Correspondent liked the film because there was “no concealed propaganda”.
(c) “Might have been longer and shown more” (8)
8 Correspondents felt that the film did not give sufficient idea of the duties (other than ploughing) of a Land Girl.
“The interesting and varied jobs which are to be found in the Women's Land Army were overlooked, and the producers concentrated on a branch of farm work which certainly does not appeal to the majority”.
“There was no indication of the other sides of the Land Army's work, i.e. poultry farming, forestry, etc”.
(d) The photography (10)
10 Correspondents praised the “really lovely photography”.
“The photography seemed to me the best part, especially the ploughing scenes”.
(This is the first of the 24 M.O.I. films reported on to earn so much praise for the photography.)
(e) The ploughing (10)
9 Correspondents referred to their own or the audience's interest in the “first-class ploughing shots”.
“The ploughing shots were particularly pleasing”.
1 Correspondent thought too much attention was given to the ploughing, at the expense of the Land Girl's other duties.
(f) The Land Girl herself (9)
5 Correspondents liked the Land Girl.
“The girl was a fine type and perfectly cast for the part”.
5 Correspondents considered the Land Girl exceptional rather than an average type.
“The girl was an ideal type that - in looking round - one seldom sees. She was much above the general Land Girl both in height and size.... and - I dare say - in intelligence, or at least earnestness”.
(g) The acting (8)
7 Correspondents praised the “natural acting”.
“The characters were genuine - that is, they were not, I think, professional actors or actresses”.
1 Correspondent, however, thought that for this reason “they lacked the necessary technique to impress the audience, and there was no holding power in their performance”.
(h) Points liked by a few Correspondents
(i) Points disliked by a few Correspondents
(j) Comparison with other official films (3)
(The three comparisons are all unfavourable, and therefore not typical of the majority opinion of this film)
“Now, ‘Builders’ was a good M.O.I. film”.
“I was much more impressed by ‘Steel goes to sea’ which followed in the programme”.
“It was the poorest M.O.I. film I have ever seen”.
(k) The audiences (37)
The majority reaction of audiences was reported to be one of mild approval , and may be classified as follows:
Only one audience is said to have applauded, and only two laughed. Of one audience, a Correspondent said “Stony silence, but a grand short on the tea industry of Ceylon, with an advertisement for Co-op tea in the last few words, absolutely ‘got’ the audience. M.O.I. might copy the technique of this film with great advantage”.
(1) Overheard comments included:
“How efficiently they do their work”!
“Do farmers expect these girls to do the same work as men?”
“Oh Rotha!” (Whispered in tones of respect, when the director's and producers' names were shown.)
“Fine strong-looking woman that!”
“Don't the Land Girls do anything but plough fields?”
“I wouldn't like to join the Land Army and be treated like that”.
“Far too many able-bodied men standing about in the cast watching the girl working”.
2. A TALE OF TWO CITIES
51 reports have been received from Films Correspondents, of which 2 do not refer to their own reactions.
The majority reaction of Correspondents was one of approval .
Their reactions may be classified as follows:-
(a) The intention and effect of the film (25)
25 Correspondents mentioned what they thought to be the intention and probable effect of the film, some referring to more than one.
The intention - and effect - was thought to have been :
“to point out similarities between the two cities, undergoing the same ordeals”. (9)
“to foster friendship with Russia”, and to “show we are all one flesh”. (7)
“to depict how Moscow has used the London blitz experience in shaping her protective and A.R.P. measures”. (3)
“to rouse English people from any lethargy they may have”, and
“to make England go all out for total war”. (3)
“to increase production to its fullest extent”. (2)
“to show how both cities were organised for air raids”. (2)
“to let people know generally what a fine city Moscow is”. (1)
“...to show that Communism is not so bad after all”. (1)
The effect - whether intentional or nor - was thought to have been :
“to show up the British war effort unfavourably”. (2)
“to make the public war conscious”. (1)
“to stress the need for voluntary training on the part of young people”. (1)
“to show how Russian women, instead of waiting to be called up for munitions, volunteered to help their country in their fight for freedom”. (1)
“to give confidence to British workers when they see how well Moscow is standing up to the enemy”. (1)
(b) The two cities compared (19)
19 Correspondents mentioned similarities between London and Moscow .
“Only the shaven heads and costumes of the people marked the difference in nationality: otherwise the behaviour of both was identical”.
“Alternating shots of London and Moscow with similar scenes drove home that the cities are undergoing the same ordeals and meeting them in the same way”.
(c) Air raids and Civil Defence (16)
10 Correspondents commented on the public during raids .
“The pictures of young children seeking shelter from air raids gave me a lump in my throat, while those showing how Russian women and children gossiped and played during the raids brought out very clearly that we are all one flesh”.
“Blitz scenes very distressing, but morale of people in both cities seemed grand”.
6 Correspondents, including 3 of the above 10, were pleased that Moscow had copied London's methods .
“It laid proper emphasis on the lesson learnt by the Russians from our experience - a fact too often forgotten”.
2 Correspondents were reminded of their own air-raid experiences .
1 Correspondent disliked the raid scenes .
“I disliked the scenes showing the Russian defence organisation going into action. The hum of enemy planes, the Ack-ack and searchlights have been seen and heard by many of us in real life and in so many films. I, for one, am tired of hearing how wonderful are the Londoners and the Russians. I have no wish to make light of their actions, but I can't go on cheering forever”.
(d) Admiration of, and interest in, the Russians . (13)
13 Correspondents commented on the Russian people .
“Everyone there seems to be pulling their weight, and the Russian people themselves look as if they don't intend having anything but victory”.
6 (of the 13) hopes that the British would profit from their example .
“I hope the efforts of Russian workers and the devotion to duty of their fireguards went home to any of their British counterparts who saw the film”.
(e) The quick alternation between scenes in London and Moscow . (10)
8 Correspondents complained of the quick alternation and of the resulting confusion .
“Alternate shots of London and Moscow were shown in such rapid succession as to make the film appear confused”.
“It was difficult at times to know when one was in Moscow and when one was in London”.
“The scenes moved too quickly in the early stages from London to Moscow and back. In my opinion, it would have been better to have shown all the London scenes and then the Moscow ones. I am certain that many people were at times doubtful whether they were looking at Moscow or London”.
2 Correspondents liked the alternation of scenes .
“The alternation from one to the other captured and held interest more effectively than a more straightforward account of either would have done”.
(f) The parade (8)
7 Correspondents were impressed by the military parade .
“The military parade going down great wide streets between massive buildings was most impressive”.
1 Correspondent disliked it .
“The big parade in Red Square is becoming boring: a cut of it is included in practically every picture having anything to do with U.S.S.R.”
(g) Moscow (6)
6 Correspondents were interested in the views of Moscow .
“I was surprised at the large buildings in Moscow”.
“Some people were obviously impressed at the splendours of Moscow's underground railway and the wideness of its streets”.
(h) The British not well enough represented (5)
5 Correspondents thought that Russia had been exalted or given undue prominence at Britain's expense .
“This was the usual admirable Russian propaganda, the net result of which is to show up the British war effort unfavourably by comparison with the Russian....I strongly suggest that the time has come to show something of the British war effort to counteract the idea - becoming more prevalent - that everything Britain does is wrong. I suggest the time has come to emulate the Russian propaganda methods by selected pictures of our war effort calculated to inspire and encourage”.
“The Russians were made to appear as if they were more aggressive; they may be, but there was little evidence of it in this film. After all, we also have industries at work during blitzes”.
“Too much Moscow - not enough London”.
(i) The speech (5)
3 Correspondents criticised the speech at the end .
“My sense of suspense was suddenly destroyed by the inevitable little lecture which it seems must accompany any M.O.I. film”.
2 Correspondents liked it .
“The short speech by the officer at the end was quite good”.
(j) The commentator (4)
3 Correspondents criticised the commentator for:
seeming to lag behind the camera,
... not being a speaker “who would really enthuse the masses”.
1 Correspondent “thought the commentary very good” .
(k) Compared with other films . (7)
3 Correspondents thought it the best M.O.I. film they had seen .
2 Correspondents thought it well up to M.O.I. standards .
2 Correspondents recognised sequences out of “Our Russian Allies” and “Behind the Lines” .
(1) The audiences (51)
The majority reaction of audiences was reported to have been one of approval , and may be classified as follows:-
24 audiences applauded during or at the end of the film .
8 audiences applauded the appearance of Stalin.
3 audiences applauded the appearance of the Prime Minister.
2 audiences applauded the military display.
Overheard comments included three variations of “To think that three years ago we thought nothing of Russia!”
3. MOBILE ENGINEERS
38 reports have been received from Correspondents.
The majority reaction of Correspondents was one of approval , and may be classified as follows:-
The following points were commented on by a number of Correspondents:
(a) The intention of the film (18)
The film was thought to be intended to show:
“How these men go about the country trying to increase arms output”. (8)
“The importance of eliminating bottlenecks and stepping up arms production”. (4)
The training of, and urgent need for more, women workers. (3)
“To recruit Mobile Engineers”. (2)
“The part factory workers are playing, giving up their homes, etc., to help the war effort”. (2)
“To work harder and not slacken our war effort”. (1)
“That it is pleasant working in munition factories, that the work is most interesting and, even if a person has no engineering knowledge or urge whatsoever, that this is anticipated by the provision of - on the screen - patient instructors”. (1)
(b) “It was news to me...” (7)
7 Correspondents “were ignorant of the fact that Mobile Engineers ever existed”, and said that “for this reason mainly” the film had interested them.
“Very interesting and unusual, and showing something that I, for one, had never thought about”.
(c) The commentator (10) and commentary (6)
9 Correspondents praised the commentator , “as a change from the usual type”.
“Free from the B.B.C. accent which so often sounds incongruous in the description of industrial and factory activities”.
“I liked the commentary, made presumably by a north-country man: it was a change from the super-Oxford stuff”.
I thought it was an improvement to have a commentator who was, presumably, one of the party and therefore was talking about something he knew as his job, and not just reading from a paper”.
1 Correspondent criticised the commentator's “dialect as most noticeable and very monotonous in tone”.
4 Correspondents criticised the commentary for containing engineering terms which were not understood - particularly a jig.
“I am afraid I do not know what a jig is, or for what it is used, and at the end of the film I was in a bigger muddle than ever concerning them, despite the efforts of the commentator”.
2 Correspondents praised the commentary as “quite clear”.
(d) The factory and the machines (14)
The following aspects of factory life were commented on with approval .
(i) “The part women are playing in the machine shops”. (6)
“The girls appeared very keen, interested and happy, and also masters of their particular branch of the work”.
“Two girls who tofday had been told to report at a factory, and who were rather glum about it, appeared quite cheered after the film and said, ‘After all, it seems quite interesting’”.
(ii) “The atmosphere of friendship and teamwork among the men and women” . (6)
(iii) “The workshop scenes showing how production is being increased” . (4)
“The chief interest to me was in the machines themselves”.
“I especially liked the way each type of work was dealt with - showing the people who did it, how they did it and the work done”.
(iv) “The good photography of the factory scenes (3)
“I was glad this film was not dark, as so many films are that show the inside of munitions works. The darkness in these films give the atmosphere of gloom in the works”.
The following aspect was unfavourably commented on :
(i) Not enough was shown (6)
“I did not like the way the operations of the machines in the factory were left out of the film. In most films I hear commentators saying how important these machines are but what they actually do seems to be a closely guarded secret. Maybe this is the reason why many girls are reluctant to enter munitions”.
“If I have any criticism to offer it is that no particular part of the work was given sufficient prominence. Too many types of shops were visited. If some of the actual movements to be made in the production of everything from bolts and nuts to the finest instrument, by presses, punching machines, cutters, drills, etc., and then the assembling of the parts until the finished article, could be seen, I think this would create greater interest”.
“Many of my questions remained unanswered:-
(1) “Do the mobile engineers train other people to take their place after they leave?
(2) “Once they have left the factory, is the increase in production maintained?”
I do feel that more could have been done with this film to quieten the critics of our production - though I am sure it helped to stifle some of the criticism”.
(e) The humour (6)
4 Correspondents praised the humour “which went down well”.
“The touch of humour enlivened the picture considerably”.
2 Correspondents thought the humour “a bit forced” .
“The spirit of levity in the commentary was rather overdone”.
(f) More of this kind of film wanted (3)
“My suggestion is that similar shorts should be made stressing the amenities provided for the workers, with perhaps canteen shots and also a visual reproduction of the ‘Works Wonders’ lunch-time broadcasts. Millions of listeners must have tried to imagine the scene. Why not show it to them?”
(g) Not sufficient general appeal (2)
“It was too technical to hold much appeal for the general public, who want something with more ‘action’”.
(h) 2 Correspondents complained that “ the recording was not too good ”, and that they had difficulty in hearing.
(i) The audiences (38)
The majority reaction of audiences was reported to be one of mild approval , and may be classified as follows:-
6 audiences were said to have applauded .
“There was considerable applause at the end - which I find to be very unusual in cinemas”.
“This was the first instance I have known of applause for a M.O.I. film”.
3 Correspondents reported to this effect :
“To the mechanically minded this film was most interesting, the intricacies of various armaments being closely studied, but I thought I detected boredom in a great many, fidgeting and general restlessness being perceptible”.
5 audiences were reported to have laughed at the humour .
“They seized on every occasion which provided a laugh”.
“Interesting” and “marvellous” were comments overheard from several audiences
4. VICTORY OVER DARKNESS
44 reports have been received from Correspondents.
The majority reaction of Correspondents was of mild approval .
Their reactions can be classified as follows:-
(a) The intention of the Film (30)
The film was thought to be:-
(i) “To show methods by which our blinded people are being helped to overcome their difficulties” and “to rouse the sympathy of the public and show the good work of St. Dunstans”. (26)
(ii) To mitigate the fear of blindness. (5, 2 from the above 26) “Blindness is not the end of everything...it is the beginning of a new life”.
“Assured people if blindness was their misfortune it was not to be feared”.
(iii) Not sure of intentions (3)
“I found it difficult to detect the purpose behind this film; as an appeal for charity it was excellent... as an indication of the future that exists for those men and women who have been blinded in this war, it was morbid in the extreme”.
“Was this film merely to show the work of St. Dunstans or was there something more attached to it? If there was I did'nt get it”.
(b) The Film's interest (27)
(i) 12 correspondents thought it “moving and pathetic” “sad and wonderful”.
“The blind people themselves were living examples of patience, courage and determination”.
(ii) 15 correspondents (including 4 of the above 12) were interested [Text Missing] in the work of the blind.
“I was amazed at the variety and scope of things that could be done by the blind”.
(iii) 4 correspondents thought it depressing and dull.
“Too sad for the period we are passing through”.
“Such a film is all right in peace time but might cause anxiety to women with relatives in the forces”.
(c) The Commentator (6)
(i) 5 correspondents liked the commentator for being “an ordinary man in the street”.
“an interesting north-country man did the talking”.
“The commentary, spoken by a war blinded soldier, while in no way sentimental, moved me to admiration and pity”.
(ii) 1 Correspondent disliked the commentator.
“Voice of spokesman monotonous...There cannot be too much importance attached to voice...need not be impeccable in accent, but should be able to convey what the speaker would have the listener know and feel.
(d) Points specially praised by a few correspondents .
“Excellent photography” (4)
Not such a reminder of the war as most” (2)
“No outward flavour of propaganda” (1)
“The matter of fact way people acted”. (1)
(e) Suggestions were made by several Correspondents, though no particular point in the film was actually disliked .
“I thought more could have been made of it, and that the film could have included an appeal for funds”. (3)
“If you had followed the blinding of one man and his subsequent learning of a new trade and his fresh start in life, I feel that you would have brought in more human interest and the audience would have liked the film more”. (1)
“Its association with the war effort and the man in the street was too remote”. (1)
“I regretted the omission of any reference to contacts with blinded persons, after leaving St. Dunstans”. (1)
“Cut out the ‘M.O.I.’ flash at the opening. Directly it appeared there was a general murmur indicating ‘Oh dear, another of those damn things’”. (1)
(f) Comparison with other M.O.I. Films . (2)
“Best short I have seen for some time”. (1)
“More interested than I usually am with shorts”. (1)
(g) The majority reaction of the audiences was reported to have been one of mild approval , and may be classified as follows:-
11 Audiences were reported to have received it quietly and attentively. “A dead silence. It ‘got home’ all right there is no doubt”.