Cottage to Let

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Cottage to Let
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Anthony Asquith
Written by J. O. C. Orton
Anatole de Grunwald
Based onplay Cottage to Let by Geoffrey Kerr [1]
Produced by Edward Black
Starring Leslie Banks
Alastair Sim
John Mills
George Cole
Cinematography Jack E. Cox
Edited by R. E. Dearing
Music by Charles Williams
Distributed by General Film Distributors (UK)
Release date
  • 6 September 1941 (1941-09-06)(UK)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Cottage to Let is a 1941 British spy thriller film directed by Anthony Asquith starring Leslie Banks, Alastair Sim and John Mills. [2] Filmed during the Second World War and set in Scotland during the war, its plot concerns Nazi spies trying to kidnap an inventor. [3]


The film was shot at the Lime Grove Studios in London, with sets designed by the art director Alex Vetchinsky. [4] The film includes the first appearance of George Cole, superbly confident as a cocky young evacuee. [5]


John Barrington (Leslie Banks) is a talented inventor, currently working on a bombsight for the Royal Air Force who prefers to work in his own country house in the Highlands of Scotland near Loch Tay. His eccentric wife (Jeanne de Casalis) has agreed to take in child evacuees from London to be accommodated in a nearby cottage they own. But Charles Dimble (Alastair Sim) has been let the cottage by the letting agency. Mrs. Barrington had also agreed to allow it to be converted into a military hospital. She decides they can only take one evacuee, which turns out to be cocky teenager, Ronald (George Cole).

An injured pilot who has parachuted into the nearby loch is rescued and brought to the house, becoming the first patient for the cottage-turned-hospital. Mrs. Barrington moves Ronald to the main house, while Dimble and the pilot remain in the cottage. After his injuries are treated by Mrs. Barrington's daughter Helen (Carla Lehmann), the pilot identifies himself as Flight Lieutenant Perry, flying Spitfires from a nearby airfield. When he is given a telephone to call his base, however, he makes the call with the telephone wire disconnected from the socket.

The War Office discuss Barrington, concerned that someone is spying on his work, since his last invention, a self-sealing fuel tank, was copied by the Germans within a month of its mass production. They suspect his assistant Alan Trently (Michael Wilding), who was educated in Germany and still corresponds with people in Switzerland. The War Office have sent someone to the house to investigate.

Defying the house rule, Ronald goes into the laboratory. He overcomes Barrington's initial hostility with his practical know-how and the two become friendly. Trently becomes jealous when Helen starts spending time with Perry. However, Helen resists Perry's advances and eventually lets Trently know that she prefers him.

German agents make their move and kidnap Barrington. Ronald stows away in the car used to take the captive to an isolated water mill. When Perry shows up, Ronald attacks one of the spies to help in the "rescue", but is shocked when Perry is revealed to be the agents' ringleader and intends to take Barrington to Berlin on a seaplane which is due to arrive in the loch the next night.

It turns out that Dimble is the British counter-intelligence officer sent by the War Office. He manages to infiltrate the spy ring and learn where Barrington is being held. All but one of the spies are captured and the prisoners are freed. Perry initially escapes, but is eventually tracked down and killed in a shoot-out with Dimble.



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  1. Goble, Alan (8 September 2011). The Complete Index to Literary Sources in Film. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN   9783110951943 via Google Books.
  2. "Cottage to Let". BFI. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016.
  3. "Cottage to Let (1941) - Anthony Asquith | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related | AllMovie" via
  4. "BFI Screenonline: Cottage To Let (1941) Credits".
  5. "BFI Screenonline: Cottage To Let (1941)".