The Halfway House

1944

Directed By

Basil Dearden

Synopsis

Mervyn Johns (A Christmas Carol) and his daughter Glynis Johns (Mary Poppins) star as the ghostly hosts of a remote inn in the Welsh countryside, the Halfway House. Tom Walls, Françoise Rosay, Esmond Knight, Guy Middleton, Pat McGrath, Philippa Hait, Richard Bird, Valerie White and Sally Anne Howes (‘Truly Scrumptious’ in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) portray the disparate group of guests who, having all set out on different journeys, find themselves seeking shelter there from a storm. However, the inn is not all that it seems and, according to the register and out-of-date newspapers, no visitor has crossed the threshold for a year.

The guests experience a series of supernatural happenings which hint at the tragic past events but during their enforced stay they are given the chance to re-evaluate their lives and their contribution to the war effort. Cowardice, black marketeering, family unity and the thorny issue of Irish neutrality are all subtly explored in this entertaining and intelligent wartime drama.

The Halfway House was written by Angus MacPhail (Whisky Galore! It Always Rains on Sunday), Diana Morgan (Went The Day Well?, Pink String and Sealing Wax) and T.E.B. Clarke (Passport to Pimlico, The Titfield Thunderbolt) from the stage play by Dennis Ogden.

Included in the special features is a new interview with cultural historian Matthew Sweet who explores the historical context of The Halfway House and Ealing Studios’ unique approach to filmmaking during World War II. Ealing Studios devoted much of its output to promoting the war effort and took an inclusive approach with films that portrayed ordinary heroes united across class and regional divides against a common enemy with The Foreman Went to France (1942), The Goose Steps Out (1942), The Next Of Kin (1942), Went The Day Well? (1942), Nine Men (1943) and The Bells Go Down (1943). By 1944, Ealing’s filmmakers were already looking beyond the war, to the kind of Britain they hoped would be built when the fighting was over. In films such as The Halfway House and the revered Ealing classic Dead Of Night (1945) fantastical scenarios were used to evoke Britain’s internal conflicts and, implicitly, ask questions about how such divisions might be healed.

Cast
Mervyn Johns, Glynis Johns, Tom Walls, Françoise Rosay, Esmond Knight, Guy Middleton, Pat McGrath, Philippa Hait, Richard Bird, Valerie White and Sally Anne Howes
Other Credits

Written by Angus MacPhail, Diana Morgan and T.E.B. Clarke

Release Date
25 November 2019
extras
  • New Interview with cultural historian Matthew Sweet
  • Stills gallery
  • English SDH
Restoration Details

A new restoration was made from the original nitrate negative held in the BFI National Archive, scanned at 4k, and with over 200 hours of manual frame by frame restoration to produce the first ever HD master.

Pressbook

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