The Foreman Went to France
The Foreman Went to France – 1942 | 87mins | War, Comedy | B&W
The Foreman Went to France, which was based on the real experiences of one Melbourne Johns, who managed to retrieve some vital machinery from under the noses of the advancing Germans. Clifford Evans played the foreman, renamed Ted Carrick for the film, who surmounts the obstacles of red tape to reach France, and then faces dive-bombers, refugee-clogged roads, spies disguised as British soldiers and the ever-advancing enemy. He falls in with a pair of tommies separated from their unit, one played by the comedian Tommy Trinder, the other by the Scottish actor Gordon Jackson, who was suggested for the part by the playwright James Bridie. Their adventures are shared by an American girl (Constance Cummings). The French sea captain who eventually brings the group back to Britain was identified in the credits as Francois Sully, although he is easily recognised as the corpulent British character actor, Francis L. Sullivan, an example of Ealing’s occasional whimsicality.
The film portrayed a small group of people from different walks of life beset by great odds, but winning through together, and it was the most satisfying Ealing war film to date, establishing what was to be a formula for many serious films and several of the post-war comedies. Frend’s approach, following a narrative storyline that was written by J. B. Priestley, and scripted by John Dighton, Angus MacPhail and Leslie Arliss, was steady and careful. The only palpable directorial flaw was the casting of Trinder, who was allowed to play in a much broader vein than the others, and undoubtedly many people were lured into the cinema expecting an entertainment in the ‘You Lucky People!’ vein.
Extract© George Perry: Forever Ealing.
Charles Frend: Director
Tom Morahan: Art Direction
Alberto Cavalcanti: Associate Producer
Wilkie Cooper: Cinematography
Robert Hamer: Editing
William Walton: Music
Ernest Irving: Musical Direction/Supervision
Michael Balcon: Producer
John Croydon: Production Manager
Leslie Arliss: Script
John Dighton: Script
Angus MacPhail: Script
L Page: Sound Recordist
Eric Williams: Sound/Sound Designer
Hal Mason: Unit Manager