February 26, 2017


The Big Blockade – 1942 | 73mins | War | B&W

Plot Synopsis

The Big Blockade

Originally intended as a Ministry of Information two-reeler, The Big Blockade was heavily propagandist and didactic in tone, perhaps an inevitability given the brief it was to fulfil. ‘Fighting is one side of war,’ explained the commentary by a celebrated Fleet Street figure, Frank Owen. ‘There is another side’ that is, stopping the enemy from fighting. As well as actors other public figures appeared, such as the American journalist Quentin Reynolds and politician Hugh Dalton. The Germans are caricatures, serving only to spell out the lesson that is being taught.

Did people really pay money to go and see a film so overtly educational in purpose? It is true that in wartime there was usually an audience for anything unless it was labelled ‘highbrow’ and possibly the public did want to see Robert Morley posturing in Nazi uniform. For Charles Frend it was an opportunity to get his directorial feet wet, but in many respects it was a much less satisfying work than his next film. It is an interesting side-note that the two editors of The Big Blockade, Charles Crichton and Compton Bennett, were both to become directors shortly afterwards, the former as one of the pillars of Ealing, and the latter making only one more film there, a documentary called Find, Fix and Strike.

ExtractŠ George Perry: Forever Ealing.

Production Team

Charles Frend: Director
Tom Morahan: Art Direction
Alberto Cavalcanti: Associate Producer
Wilkie Cooper: Cinematography
Compton Bennett: Editing
Charles Crichton: Editing
Richard Addinsell: Music
Ernest Irving: Musical Direction/Supervision
Michael Balcon: Producer
John Croydon: Production Supervisor
Angus MacPhail: Script
Eric Williams: Sound/Sound Designer
Roy Kellino: Special Effects


Leslie Banks: Taylor
Michael Redgrave: Russian
Michael Rennie: George
Will Hay: Skipper
Bernard Miles: Mate
Robert Morley: Von Geiselbrecht
Michael Wilding: Captain
Frederick Piper: Malta Official
John Mills: Tom

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