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Dangerous Comment (1940)

Film Courtesy of the Imperial War Museums

Main image of Dangerous Comment (1940)

Cast: Frank Lawton (Gerald Conway); Penelope Dudley Ward (Mrs Conway); Milton Rosmer (Major Brett); Margaret Vyner (Pearl); Roland Culver (officer); Robert Rendel (cast member); Alec Clunes (cast member); Ian Fleming (official); Edward Lexy (Percival); Roddy Hughes (Charlie); Patrick Parsons (cast member)

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A young pilot, annoyed at not being selected to take part in a raid on an enemy target, moans to his fiancée, who in turn chatters to a friend at a cocktail bar...

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This anti-gossip cautionary tale was one of three short films on the subject produced by Ealing for the Ministry of Information in released simultaneously in May 1940. The films share a similar plotline - loose-tongued individuals unwittingly give away vital military secrets and scupper, or in this case nearly scupper (thanks to a couple of officers who happen to be in earshot of the glamorous chatterbox), British military missions.

The message was deemed so important to national security that separate films were commissioned to ensure that the whole population was reached. This distribution strategy reflects the sharp divisions that still existed between the classes, particularly at this early stage of the war.

Dangerous Comment, with its pilot protagonist and swanky living room and cocktail bar settings, was designed to chime with the type of upper-class cinemagoer who would have frequented deluxe West End houses. Its companion film, Now You’re Talking, was targeted working-class audiences and was widely distributed in the north of England, while All Hands was aimed at the middle classes and shown the most widely of the three.

Katy McGahan

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Video Clips
Complete film (11:31)
All Hands (1940)
Now You're Talking (1940)
Ealing Studios (1938-59)
Ealing Propaganda Shorts