The Bells Go Down


Directed By

Basil Dearden

The Bells Go Down, directed by Basil Dearden (The Green Man, The Gentle Gunman), is a powerfully authentic depiction of the work of the A.F.S (The Auxiliary Fire Service) that, in a revolutionary move, utilized genuine footage of London in the grip of the Blitz.
Starring the music hall hero Tommy Trinder (Fiddlers Three, Sailors Three) in a rare straight role, a young James Mason (The Man Between, Lolita), Philip Friend (Buccaneer’s Girl, Spy Hunt) and even a future television Doctor in William Hartnell (‘Doctor Who?, Brighton Rock), the film captures the urgency and desperation of the era and serves as a rare historical document of a city in the grip of war.
The Bells Go Down opened just a few weeks after another film concerned with the A.F.S, Humphrey Jennings’ semi-documentary: Fires Were Started, was released. Jennings’ film, which utilised real firefighters in a fictional narrative, is included in this release as part of the extras materials.
At the outbreak of war, Bob (Philip Friend) signs up to volunteer for the A.F.S. The organisation is overseen by professional firemen led by MacFarlane (Finlay Currie) and Ted Robins (James Mason), who despise Bob and his rag-tag colleagues that include Tommy (Tommy Trinder), a kennelman and Sam (Mervyn Johns), a petty dockside thief. MacFarlane and Ted set out to break the spirits of the A.F.S. boys and give them some proper discipline but can Bob and his cohort fight back?
Seamlessly blending fictional settings with authentic wartime footage, the film chronicles the trials, triumphs, camaraderie and rivalry of the ordinary heroes of the A.F.S from the eve of the war to the relentless aerial bombardment of the Blitz.
Tommy Trinder, James Mason, Philip Friend, Mervyn Johns, William Hartnell, Finlay Currie, Philippa Hyatt, Meriel Forbes, Beatrice Varley, Norman Pierce, Muriel George, Julian Vedey
Release Date
24 June 2024
  • London Auxiliary Fire Brigade Parade (1939)
  • Fires Were Started (1943)
  • Save Your Shillings and Smile (1943)
  • Stills Gallery
Restoration Details

For the 2024 restoration of The Bells Go Down, STUDIOCANAL went back to the original camera negative which was scanned and restored in 4K to produce a brand new HD master


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