Mr. Proudfoot Shows a Light

Last updated

Mr. Proudfoot Shows a Light
"Mr. Proudfoot Shows a Light" (1941).jpg
L–R: Sydney Howard and Wylie Watson
Directed by Herbert Mason
Written by Sidney Gilliat
Produced by Edward Black
Cinematography Arthur Crabtree
Edited by Alfred Roome [1]
Distributed by Ministry of Information
Release date
  • 1941 (1941)
Running time
7 minutes 45 seconds
CountryUnited Kingdom

Mr. Proudfoot Shows a Light is a 1941 British World War II public information/propaganda short film, directed by Herbert Mason and produced by Edward Black for 20th Century Fox. The film had a number of well-known actors of the period, featuring British film and stage actors, Sydney Howard and Wylie Watson. [3]


Mr. Proudfoot Shows a Light was commissioned by the Ministry of Information and was designed to emphasise, in a humorous manner, the need for absolute adherence to wartime blackout regulations. A secondary consideration of the production was to present information in a way that would relieve the stress of civilians coping with nightly bombing raids in the Blitz.


Mr. Proudfoot (Sydney Howard ) is an attention-seeking bore who subjects his long-suffering wife (Muriel George) and exasperated acquaintances to endless tall tales about narrow escapes from bombs. He also teases the local blackout warden for his ridiculous pettiness when it comes to enforcing blackout restrictions.

One night Mr. Proudfoot invites a friend (Wylie Watson) over for a late night game of billiards, but is careless about his blackout. After moving the blackout screen over to let in some air, the light showing from his home provides a target for a stray German bomber. The German crew had been struggling with inclement weather and were unable to get their bearings until they see the light below, which, after some calculations, indicates they are over London.

Having unloaded a bomb over Mr. Proudfoot's district, and even hitting his house with calamitous results, the Luftwaffe bomber is shot down by RAF Hawker Hurricane fighters. Under interrogation, one of the German crew states that they were guided to their target by a light blazing from a property that allowed them to plot out an attack.

Despite his injuries, Mr. Proudfoot appears at his local pub bandaged and bruised, but is still boasting to anyone who will listen about his latest brush with death.



Filming for Mr. Proudfoot Shows a Light took place in Shepherd's Bush Studios. The film includes a studio set scene of a Luftwaffe base and the interiors of aircraft cockpits, alongside authentic newsreel footage of an aerial dogfight and a downed aircraft. [4] [Note 1]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Britain</span> Crucial WW2 air battle fought between German and British air forces

The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) of the Royal Navy defended the United Kingdom (UK) against large-scale attacks by Nazi Germany's air force, the Luftwaffe. It was the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces. The British officially recognise the battle's duration as being from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as the Blitz, that lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941. German historians do not follow this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to May 1941, including the Blitz.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bristol Blenheim</span> British light bomber in World War II

The Bristol Blenheim is a British light bomber designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, which was used extensively in the first two years of the Second World War, with examples still being used as trainers until the end of the war. Development began with the Type 142, a civil airliner, after a challenge from the newspaper proprietor Lord Rothermere to produce the fastest commercial aircraft in Europe. The Type 142 first flew in April 1935, and the Air Ministry, ordered a modified design as the Type 142M for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a bomber.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Blitz</span> 1940–41 German bombing of Britain during WWII

The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom, in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and originated from the term Blitzkrieg, the German word meaning 'lightning war'.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dive bomber</span> Bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets

A dive bomber is a bomber aircraft that dives directly at its targets in order to provide greater accuracy for the bomb it drops. Diving towards the target simplifies the bomb's trajectory and allows the pilot to keep visual contact throughout the bomb run. This allows attacks on point targets and ships, which were difficult to attack with conventional level bombers, even en masse.

<i>Battle of Britain</i> (film) 1969 WWII film by Guy Hamilton

Battle of Britain is a 1969 British war film directed by Guy Hamilton, and produced by Harry Saltzman and S. Benjamin Fisz. The film documents the events of the Battle of Britain. The film drew many respected British actors to accept roles as key figures of the battle, including Laurence Olivier as Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Trevor Howard as Air Vice-Marshal Keith Park, and Patrick Wymark as Air Vice-Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory. It also starred Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, and Robert Shaw as Squadron Leaders. The script by James Kennaway and Wilfred Greatorex was based on the book The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Strategic bombing during World War II</span> Airborne warfare throughout World War II

World War II (1939–1945) involved sustained strategic bombing of railways, harbours, cities, workers' and civilian housing, and industrial districts in enemy territory. Strategic bombing as a military strategy is distinct both from close air support of ground forces and from tactical air power. During World War II, many military strategists of air power believed that air forces could win major victories by attacking industrial and political infrastructure, rather than purely military targets. Strategic bombing often involved bombing areas inhabited by civilians, and some campaigns were deliberately designed to target civilian populations in order to terrorize them and disrupt their usual activities. International law at the outset of World War II did not specifically forbid the aerial bombardment of cities – despite the prior occurrence of such bombing during World War I (1914–1918), the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), and the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).

<i>The First of the Few</i> 1942 film by Leslie Howard

The First of the Few is a 1942 British black-and-white biographical film produced and directed by Leslie Howard, who stars as R. J. Mitchell, the designer of the Supermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft.

<i>The Lion Has Wings</i> 1939 British propaganda film

The Lion Has Wings is a 1939 British, black-and-white, documentary-style, propaganda war film that was directed by Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, Alexander Korda and Michael Powell. The film was produced by London Film Productions and Alexander Korda Film Productions and 'was preparing the nation [for war] and shining a light on the power of the RAF'.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wylie Watson</span> Scottish actor (1889–1966)

Wylie Watson was a British actor. Among his best-known roles were those of "Mr Memory", an amazing man who commits "50 new facts to his memory every day" in Alfred Hitchcock's film The 39 Steps (1935), and wily storekeeper Joseph Macroon in the Ealing comedy Whisky Galore! (1949). He emigrated to Australia in 1952, and made his final film appearance there in The Sundowners (1960).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sydney Howard</span> English actor and comedian (1884–1946)

Sydney Howard was an English stage comedian and film actor born in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire.

<i>Adlertag</i> First day of German military operations to destroy the British air force

Adlertag was the first day of Unternehmen Adlerangriff, which was the codename of a military operation by Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe to destroy the British Royal Air Force (RAF). The operation came after Britain rejected all overtures for a negotiated peace with Germany. However, Adlertag and subsequent operations failed to destroy the RAF or gain local air superiority.

<i>The Adventures of Tartu</i> 1943 film by Harold S. Bucquet

The Adventures of Tartu is a 1943 British Second World War spy film directed by Harold S. Bucquet and starring Robert Donat. It was a morale booster of the era portraying Nazis as highly corruptible due to their desire to seduce women and to gain personal advancement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Defence of the Reich</span> 1939–45 aerial campaign of World War II

The Defence of the Reich is the name given to the strategic defensive aerial campaign fought by the Luftwaffe of Nazi Germany over German-occupied Europe and Germany during World War II. Its aim was to prevent the destruction of German civilians, military and civil industries by the Western Allies. The day and night air battles over Germany during the war involved thousands of aircraft, units and aerial engagements to counter the Allied strategic bombing campaign. The campaign was one of the longest in the history of aerial warfare and with the Battle of the Atlantic and the Allied Blockade of Germany was the longest of the war. The Luftwaffe fighter force defended the airspace of German-occupied territory against attack, first by RAF Bomber Command and then against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in the Combined Bomber Offensive.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Britain Day</span> Day remembering the Battle of Britain on the 15 September 1940

Battle of Britain Day, 15 September 1940, is the day on which a large-scale aerial battle in the Battle of Britain took place.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of the Heligoland Bight (1939)</span> First major aerial battle of WWII

The Battle of the Heligoland Bight was the first "named" air battle of the Second World War, which began the longest air campaign of the war on 3 September 1939, the Defence of the Reich. After the declaration of war, RAF Bomber Command began operations against Nazi Germany but limited their attacks to those targets that were purely military and had little risk of civilian casualties. This largely limited their efforts to attacks on the Kriegsmarine warships in German ports to prevent their use in the Battle of the Atlantic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Circus offensive</span> Codename given to operations by the RAF during World War II

Circus was the codename given to operations by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War where bombers, with a mass escort of fighters, were sent over continental Europe to bring Luftwaffe fighters into combat. These were usually formations of 20 to 30 bombers escorted by up to 16 squadrons of escort fighters. Bomber formations of this size could not be ignored by the Luftwaffe.

No. 114 Squadron was a squadron of the British Royal Air Force. It was first formed in India during the First World War, serving as a light bomber squadron during the Second World War and as a transport squadron post-war. It was last disbanded in 1971.

South West Pacific is a 1943 propaganda short Australian film directed by Ken G. Hall which focuses on Australia as the main Allied base in the South West Pacific area. Actors depict a cross section of Australians involved in the war effort.

<i>Men of the Lightship</i> 1940 British wartime propaganda film directed by David MacDonald

Men of the Lightship is a short propaganda film produced by the Crown Film Unit for the British Ministry of Information in 1940, the year after the beginning of the Second World War. It dramatises the bombing of the East Dudgeon lightship by the Luftwaffe on 29 January 1940 and was designed to portray Germany as a barbaric enemy. An opening narration explains the traditional understanding of lightships as neutral vessels during war.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Operation Gisela</span> 1945 WWII Luftwaffe air operation

Operation Gisela was the codename for a German military operation of the Second World War. Gisela was designed as an aerial intruder operation to support the German air defence system in its night battles with RAF Bomber Command during the Defence of the Reich campaign. It was the last major operation launched by the Luftwaffe Nachtjagdgeschwader during the conflict.



  1. The "Jolly Anglers" pub at 314–316 Kennetside, Reading, London, was featured in location shots. [5]


  1. Sloman, Tony. "Obituary: Alfred Roome." The Independent, 12 December 1997. Retrieved: 14 August 2016.
  2. Aldgate and Richards 2007, pp. 76–77.
  3. Hobart, Tas. "Pictures and personalities." The Mercury (Hobart)|The Mercury, 10 April 1937, p. 5. Retrieved: 27 April 2012.
  4. "Notes: 'Mr. Proudfoot Shows a Light'." Media Collections Online, University of Indiana. Retrieved: 28 December 2016.
  5. "The Jolly Anglers". The Jolly Retrieved: 29 December 2016.


  • Aldgate, Anthony and Jeffrey Richards. Britain Can Take It: The British Cinema in the Second World War. 2nd edition. London: I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2007. ISBN   978-1-8451-1445-9.