Hue and Cry (film)

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Hue and Cry
Hue and Cry UK quad poster.jpg
Original UK quad format film poster
Directed by Charles Crichton
Written by T. E. B. Clarke
Produced by Michael Balcon
Cinematography Douglas Slocombe
Edited by Charles Hasse
Music by Georges Auric
Distributed by
Release date
  • 23 February 1947 (1947-02-23)(UK)
Running time
82 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£104,222 [2]
Box office£96,812 (UK) [2]

Hue and Cry is a 1947 British film directed by Charles Crichton and starring Alastair Sim, Harry Fowler and Joan Dowling.


It is generally considered to be the first of the Ealing comedies, although it is better characterised as a thriller for children. Shot almost entirely on location, it is now a notable historic document due to its vivid portrait of a London still showing the damage of the Second World War. The city forms the backdrop of a crime-gangster plot which revolves around a working class children's street culture and children's secret clubs.


In a bombed-out post-World War II area of London neighbourhood, a series of illustrated adventure stories become a guilty reading pleasure for members of a teen-age clique, the Blood and Thunder Boys. However, their leader, Joe Kirby (Harry Fowler), discovers the plotlines of the popular publication are being copied by a crew of local thieves to plan and execute their jobs. Joe notifies C.I.D. Inspector Ford (Jack Lambert), who scoffs at the notion with humour. Then while at work, Joe tells his boss, Mr. Nightingale (Jack Warner), who suggests Joe forget it. Not to be distracted, Joe and another boy visit the stories' eccentric author, Wilkinson (Alistair Sim). While there, they note that Wilkinson's wording is being altered somewhere between drafting and actual publication. This leads Joe and his gang on the trail of a female employee of the stories' publishing house. One afternoon, they follow her to a handsome suburban home in Hampstead. They break in and tie her up. But an interrogation gets the boys nowhere. Ford turns up (who is also in the criminal gang), but is knocked out by a catapult. Eventually, however, they discover the address of a drop location for the robbers' stolen loot.

Joe and the gang arrange with Wilkinson to create a new adventure story that's designed to send all the criminals to the drop. Next day, Joe tells Nightingale of the plan. Afterwards, he realizes Nightingale himself is the mastermind behind the local crimes. Later at the warehouse where the stolen loot is kept, Joe comes upon a cache of stolen fur coats. Then, Nightingale appears and threatens the boy. But when other crooks and toughs arrive, they knock Nightingale unconscious. Joe is saved when the crooks are overrun by hundreds of city boys responding to a Blood and Thunder Boys' pre-arranged radio plea for help. Pandemonium and comedy rule the scene. Before long, though, police arrive and restore order. Alone, Joe follows Nightingale to a bombed multi-storied building. During the ensuing confrontation, Nightingale falls through one of the many holes in the floor. The implication is that he dies as the police and the kids' gang arrive.



On 23 February 1947, the film opened at the Tivoli cinema on the Strand in London. [1] According to trade papers, the film was a "notable box office attraction" at British cinemas in 1947. [3] The film earned distributor's gross receipts of £96,812 in the UK of which £87,796 went to the producer. [2]


The film was digitally restored and released on Blu-ray and DVD in 2015. [4]

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  1. 1 2 "Alastair Sim". Art & Hue. 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 Chapman, J. (2022). The Money Behind the Screen: A History of British Film Finance, 1945-1985. Edinburgh University Press p 355. Gross is distributor's gross receipts.
  3. Robert Murphy, Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48 2003 p209
  4. Simon Heffer (11 July 2015). "Hue and Cry: rediscovering an Ealing masterpiece". The Telegraph. Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 February 2016.