Considered to be the first of what we now describe as the Ealing comedies the post war movie Hue and Cry (1946) is more fantasy than realism although its main locations used London’s bomb sites which made great adventure playgrounds for youngsters right through to the later part of the fifties. T E B Clarke’s story involves a group of working class kids who suspect a gang of crooks of using a popular weekly serial comic book publication called The Trump to send coded messages to each other to set up various criminal activities. When the leader of the youngsters Joe Kirby reports their suspicions to the police, Inspector Ford refuses to take their claims seriously. Joe and his young friends decide to take action themselves to stop the crooks.
This Boys Own Paper adventure story was directed by Charles Crichton, and stars Harry Fowler in his breakthrough role as Joe Kirby, the magnificent Alistair Sim plays the rather camp comic book author Felix H Wilkinson who it was said was based on Frank Richards creator of the Greyfriars School stories that featured Billy Bunter. Jack Warner, for one of the odd times in his career, plays a villain and the only girl member of Joe’s gang is debut actress Joan Dowling who in 1951 became Mrs Harry Fowler but in 1954, aged 26, committed suicide by gas poisoning when her film parts dried up.
|....and the wonderful Alistair Sim.|
Stark photography of post war London by Douglas Slocombe (Robbery 1967, The Italian Job 1969) added a gritty feel to what in essence was a thriller for children, a cross between a working class version of Richmal Crompton Just William and Emil and the Detectives (a 1931 movie adapted for the screen by Billy Wilder and Emeric Pressburger from Erich Kastner’s novel of the same name). A light-hearted entertaining romp that takes us to a world before the word teenager was ever muted!!