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Did You Ever See a Dream Talking? (1943)


Main image of Did You Ever See a Dream Talking? (1943)
35mm, 7 min, black & white
DirectorBasil Dearden
Production CompanyEaling Studios
SponsorNational Savings Committee

Cast: Claude Hulbert (Claude Robinson / good angel / bad angel); Enid Trevor (his wife)

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A spendthrift home guard volunteer gets a heavenly lesson on the importance of saving for the war effort.

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An ingenious comedy short designed to promote investment for the war effort, Did You Ever See a Dream Talking was one of a handful of films commissioned from Ealing Studios in the later part of the war by the National Savings Committee.

At the time it was made, comedian Claude Hulbert was becoming familiar as a foil for fellow clown Will Hay; together they did their bit for the war effort. Hulbert joined Hay on the trail of a Nazi spy in The Ghost of St Michael's (d. Marcel Varnel, 1941) and on stage in patriotic revue (the duo played inept air raid wardens). This slickly written short reminds us that Hulbert was a talented performer in his own right. In good characteristic form as a dithering 'silly ass', Hulbert plays a Home Guard recruit who, along with his equally feckless wife, fritters his money on such inessential frivolities as whiskey, a card table and a new shaving mirror, instead of taking up a neighbour's invitation to join and invest in a war savings group.

An entertaining dream sequence sees Claude harangued by his good and bad guardian angels - both amusingly played by Hulbert. Modern viewers might find some of the good angel's suggestions for economisation rather stringent. "A pint and a half of old and mild at the Red Lion? Shame upon you! Half a pint would have been ample. The rest you should have put in war savings." (The good angel's admonition is an Ealing in-joke - the Red Lion pub near Ealing Green was a regular haunt for the studio's hard-drinking employees.) In the end, Claude agrees that he "must do a bit more than his bit" and is finally convinced to save for 'Wings for Victory'.

Vic Pratt

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Video Clips
Complete film (6:17)
Go to Blazes (1942)
Save Your Shillings and Smile (1943)
Sky's the Limit, The (1943)
Dearden, Basil (1911-1971)
Ealing Studios (1938-59)
Ealing Propaganda Shorts