Pastor Hall

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Pastor Hall
"Pastor Hall" (1940).jpg
U.S. poster
Directed by Roy Boulting
Written by Leslie Arliss
Anna Reiner
Haworth Bromley
John Boulting
Roy Boulting
Miles Malleson
Based onthe play Pastor Hall (1939) by Ernst Toller [1]
Produced byJohn Boulting
Starring Wilfrid Lawson
Nova Pilbeam
Marius Goring
Seymour Hicks
Cinematography Mutz Greenbaum
Edited byRoy Boulting
Music byCharles Brill
Hans May (as Mac Adams)
Charter Film Productions
Distributed byGrand National Pictures (UK)
Release date
27 May 1940 (London) (UK)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget£25,000 [2]

Pastor Hall is a 1940 British drama film directed by Roy Boulting and starring Wilfrid Lawson, Nova Pilbeam, Marius Goring, Seymour Hicks and Bernard Miles. [3] The film is based on the play of the same title by German author Ernst Toller who had lived as an emigrant in the United States until his suicide in 1939. [4] The U.S. version of the film opened with a prologue by Eleanor Roosevelt denouncing the Nazis, and her son James Roosevelt presented the film in the US through United Artists. [5]



The film was based on the true story of the German pastor Martin Niemöller who was sent to Dachau concentration camp for criticizing the Nazi Party. In the 1930s, a small German village, Altdorf, is taken over by a platoon of stormtroopers loyal to Hitler. The SS go about teaching and enforcing 'The New Order' but the pastor, a kind and gentle man, will not be intimidated. While some villagers join the Nazi Party avidly, and some just go along with things, hoping for a quiet life, the pastor takes his convictions to the pulpit. Because of his criticism of the Nazis, the pastor is sent to Dachau.


Critical reception

The New York Times reviewer wrote that "not until Pastor Hall opened last night at the Globe has any film come so close to the naked spiritual issues involved in the present conflict or presented them in terms so moving. If it is propaganda, it is also more...In its production the film is mechanically inferior. The sound track is uneven, the lighting occasionally bad. But in its performances it has been well endowed. Much of the film's dignity and cumulative emotion comes from the fine performance of Wilfrid Lawson as the pastor." [6] TV Guide called the film "far less heavy-handed than most wartime films Hollywood cranked out after Pearl Harbor." [5]

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  1. Alix-Nicolaï, Florian (2015). "Exile Drama: The Translation of Ernst Toller's Pastor Hall (1939)". Translation and Literature. 24 (2): 190–202. doi:10.3366/tal.2015.0201.
  2. "TWIN PRODUCERS". Cairns Post . No. 13, 838. Queensland, Australia. 10 July 1946. p. 6. Retrieved 13 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  3. David Parkinson. "Pastor Hall". RadioTimes.
  4. "Pastor Hall (1941)". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  5. 1 2 "Pastor Hall".
  6. Crowther, Bosley (3 September 2021). "THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; 'Brigham Young--Frontiersman' Opens at the Roxy --'Pastor Hall,' at the Globe". The New York Times.