Don’t be fooled by its ‘name’ director (Anthony Asquith) and starry cast (John Mills, Leslie Banks, Alastair Sim, Michael Wilding), this comically skewed wartime espionage pic has ‘Quota Quickie’ written all over it. And is modestly enjoyable as such. Banks, an eccentric mechanical genius working with young Wilding on a new bomb sighting device in his country estate, let’s his ditzy wife see to their cottage rental property. Turns out, it’s been promised to some rambunctious London evacuees; a hospital recovery unit for injured soldiers; and as a vacation retreat. Vacant for months, it’s suddenly wanted by all three at once! Alas, this fertile comic idea gets smothered by some Spy vs Spy vs Spy intrigue as various London agencies secretly post men in the place to watch over Banks’ war work, unaware of a gang of local Fifth Columnists and a possible German plant. Ah well, the spirit is willing and the cast fun to watch, but so much more could have been done.
DOUBLE-BILL: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger nailed this sort of fun WWII British propaganda in 49TH PARALLEL/’41 and ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING/’42.