Seen that!

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Green for Danger (1946)

without comments

Concept: Murder in a small WWII hospital

It is late 1944 in SE England. V1 'buzz-bombs' fly overhead – when the noise stops, the missile is diving to explode. One of the local postmen is also a Civil Defence volunteer and has his leg badly broken when his HQ is hit by one of them. Taken to the local hospital, he dies just as the operation is starting.

We know, thanks to Alistair Sim's voiceover, that it was no accident, but for the story, it is not until one of the nurses announces to a party that it was murder and she knows who did it that everyone else does. Before very long, two people are dead and Scotland Yard detective Sim is being disrespectful to everyone in an attempt to solve the mystery.

It turns out that everyone left of the surgical team had a motive, but which one was it and can any of them be trusted, especially after a fatal dose of poison goes missing?

What's good: Alistair Sim is delightful, of course. Everyone else is fine and on the same page.

The script and cinematography are both above average too, with the night scenes particularly well done.

What's not so good: For a film where colour is a major plot point, it's in black and white.

I'm not entirely convinced by the 'whole story as flashback' structure – it is supposed to be Sim writing his report, but the start is there to unnecessarily heighten the drama rather than tell a superior what happened.

Music: Fine score from William Alwyn.

Miscellany: If you get nothing else from this, remember that announcing that you, and only you, know who a murderer is to a large crowd before going off alone into a dark room with lots of sharp things is not a good idea…

There's a sign on the wall of the ward saying 'no smoking'… but just for two short periods during the day.

Again, the BBFC cut this one on its original release. It's not clear what was lost – the BBFC site doesn't give details and doesn't know of any 'alternate versions'.

Overall: Made just after WWII, this is not the sort of 'heroes working together' film that most of the cast and crew had been doing.

Here the two doctors don't like each other – one's been involved in another surgical death and the other is involved with half the female staff – and the nurses are not selfless Florence Nightingales either. Similarly, Sim's detective rubs everyone's backs up and, had he been politer, the mystery may well have been solved earlier.

The freedom everyone had to be less respectful is probably why it works so well, and this is one of Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder's best.

TL;DR It would miss Sim, but I am amazed it hasn't been remade.

Film: 4/5
DVD: ?/5

It's a regular on Film4, which is where I saw it. Unfortunately, their print is not as good as it could be: the contrast is too high. Is the DVD any better?

Written by Ian

December 13th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Posted in Cinema

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