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Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight, The (1906)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Bessie paces up and down, and orders her maid out to check the street. She then opens a concealed chamber in the wall to reveal her lover Basil Underwood. They embrace by the fireplace. The maid comes back with a message that Roundhead soldiers are about to pay them a visit. Basil hides again. The Roundheads search the room but fail to find anything.

A tryst between Basil and Bessie in a field is interrupted by Roundhead soldiers, who lead them away. Basil is condemned by Oliver Cromwell to be shot at the ringing of the curfew bell. Cromwell signs the death warrant, which is delivered to the prison.

With curfew fast approaching, Bessie pleads to the sexton not to ring the bell, but he insists. In desperation, Bessie scales the belfry tower, determined to prevent the bell from tolling. The sexton, who is deaf, pulls the bellrope, and Bessie grabs hold of the clapper and swings on it for dear life, to stop it hitting the sides of the bell.

The soldiers prepare to shoot Basil, waiting only for the sound of the bell. It doesn't come, and Cromwell tells them to stand down. They march back to the town, where Cromwell demands why the sexton didn't ring the bell. He insists that he did. Bessie confesses all, and Cromwell decides to release Basil in sympathy. Cromwell's soldiers leave, and the lovers embrace.