Seven Days to Noon (1950)

Seven Days to Noon (1950)

Welcome, CMBA members! I’m happy to be participating in the Classic Movie Blog Association’s “Hidden Classics” blogathon. If you’re new to my site, please click here to read more.

For my entry in this blogathon, I chose to re-post my review of a film I discovered with pure delight last summer: John and Ray Boulting’s Seven Days to Noon (1950). This tense, well-scripted movie about a justifiably unhinged scientist threatening to destroy London unless politicians halt all production of Weapons of Mass Destruction remains as potent today as it must surely have been during the Cold War. It’s well worth a look on numerous levels, including atmospheric cinematography and impressive use of on-location shooting across London. I’m puzzled as to why it’s not more widely known and appreciated. I hope you enjoy my review and the film itself! – Sylvia (FilmFanatic)

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“What would you do if you were convinced the results of your life work were being put to an evil purpose?”

A British scientist (Barry Jones) deeply distressed that the world seems unaware of the danger of nuclear bombs sends a note to the Prime Minister (Ronald Adam) threatening to annihilate London unless Adam calls a halt to all production of WMDs. A detective (André Morell) immediately begins to search for Professor Willingdon (Jones), whose assistant (Hugh Cross) and grown daughter (Sheila Manahan) are perplexed and distressed by this turn of events; meanwhile, Jones makes his way across London, seeking refuge and support in unexpected spaces.


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British filmmakers and identical twins John and Ray Boulting were primarily known for a string of comedies they directed and/or produced in the 1950s and 1960s; a few of their titles are listed in Peary’s book: The Magic Box (1951), I’m All Right Jack (1959), and Cry of the Penguins (1971). This atmospheric Cold war thriller is a pleasant surprise in their oeuvre, and likely their best film, given what a powerful punch it continues to pack. As noted by Bosley Crowther in his review for the New York Times, it’s a “terminally overwhelming picture” filled with “superb pictorial clarity and ever-tightening dramatic suspense”.

From its opening moments until its almost unspeakably tension-filled finale, we’re held on the edge of our seats during this film, feeling anxiety, dread, and a surprising amount of sympathy for the man (clearly unhinged — can you blame him?) about to annihilate one of the world’s largest cities. Fine attention is paid to small details and ambiance throughout the movie, including effective supporting characters (both speaking and silent) and use of authentic locations and extras. Gilbert Taylor’s atmospheric cinematography perfectly captures both the broad scope of a city at risk, as well as the shadowy underworld Jones is pulled into. Most definitely check this one out.

Note: It’s fascinating to read that both Boulting twins married numerous times (John four times, Ray five) and had a total of 13 kids between them (!). They were busy.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine performances by the entire cast

  • Atmospheric cinematography by Gilbert Taylor

  • Excellent use of authentic locations and extras

  • The Academy Award-winning screenplay

Must See?
Yes, as a powerful Cold War-era thriller.


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One thought on “Seven Days to Noon (1950)

  1. First viewing. Must-see – for its solid place in cinema history – and in agreement with the accurate assessment.

    This is simply one crackerjack flick that works from beginning to end; well-cast and well-acted, meticulous direction, fine cinematography and production design, and a truly impressive assembly of almost countless locales.

    It all builds progressively to a tense and satisfying conclusion. Well done!

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