“Young or old, an Englishman’s place at a time like this is in England.”
When the Germans invade France in 1940, a vacationing elderly Englishman (Monty Woolley) is asked to bring two children (Roddy McDowall and Peggy Ann Garner) with him back to London. Along the way, however, Woolley finds himself escorting more and more needy kids.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Anne Baxter Films
- Character Arc
- Monty Woolley Films
- Roddy McDowall Films
- World War II
This warm-hearted adaptation of Nevil Shute’s novel — about an unlikely hero (Woolley) who finds himself shepherding a passel of kids through war-torn Europe — is more a fable than a realistic story; indeed, because it was clearly shot on Hollywood sound stages, one never feels as though the characters are in any true danger. Woolley’s performance is the undisputed highlight of the film: he keeps things at a consistently humorous level. No matter how dire the circumstances he and his kids face (including death by Nazis), we know he will always stand up for his rights. I especially like his interactions with McDowell and Garner, both of whom show ample evidence of their natural ability as child actors.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Monty Woolley as the elderly curmudgeon who experiences a change of heart; Peary nominates him for an Alternate Oscar as best actor of the year
- Good, natural performances by child actors McDowall and Garner
Yes, to see Woolley in his Oscar-nominated role.
- Noteworthy Performance(s)
- Oscar Winner or Nominee