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Eighty Days, The (1944)


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!

Summer 1944. Visitors to a London museum study the model of a V1 flying bomb - or "doodlebug". These were launched on Britain in July in an attempt by the Germans to force Allied command to change tactics and prioritise the capture of launch sites along the French coast. The scheme failed, but another salvo of bombs is launched.

Southern England, a seaside town. Artillery gunners are on permanent watch for V1 bombs while the townspeople go about their daily business. The rumble of doodlebugs is heard, an alarm sounds, and the guns are manned. Everyone - soldier and civilian - dons a hard hat and scans the skies.

The guns take aim on the first doodlebug and, after several shots, it is eventually destroyed. The barrage continues and a further two bombs are destroyed, the second trailing fire and crashing in a field not far from the town. After a fourth is eliminated, watchmen notice another escape through the line of fire. They telephone through a warning, which is passed along a network of sentries further inland.

The V1 continues its journey, disturbing the citizens down below - some women bathing in the local river even don helmets as it passes. The air force is activated and several fighter planes give chase. The bomb hits a barrage balloon and crashes to the earth.

Another doodlebug evades the artillery and makes its way to London. The sirens go up and there is a huge explosion in the centre of the city. Firemen and members of the ambulance service help people out of the rubble. All that is left of the V1 is a tiny, twisted fragment of metal.

The people of England celebrate Bastille Day. Bands play La Marseillaise while the Tricolour is raised in a town square. A Union Jack is hung among the remains of a bombed-out building.