The Big Blockade

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The Big Blockade
The Big Blockade DVD cover.jpg
British DVD cover
Directed by Charles Frend
Written byCharles Frend
Angus McPhail
Produced by Michael Balcon
Starring Leslie Banks
Frank Cellier
Will Hay
John Mills
Robert Morley
Michael Redgrave
Cinematography Wilkie Cooper
Douglas Slocombe
Edited by Compton Bennett
Charles Crichton
Music by Richard Addinsell
orchestrated by Roy Douglas
Distributed by United Artists Ltd (UK)
Release date
  • 19 January 1942 (1942-01-19)(UK)
Running time
73 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Big Blockade is a 1942 British black-and-white war propaganda film in the style of dramatised documentary. It is directed by Charles Frend and stars Will Hay, Leslie Banks, Michael Redgrave and John Mills. It was produced by Michael Balcon for Ealing Studios, in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Warfare. [1] [2] [3]


At one stage, the film was known as Siege. [4]


This is a propaganda film in which the British strategy of the economic blockade of Nazi Germany is illustrated through a series of scenes and sketches, combined with documentary footage.

Although released in 1942 it was largely made in 1941 so part of the story is complaint of America's non-involvement.

Main cast

The film's commentary is made by the journalist and former Liberal MP Frank Owen.


The film premiered at the London Pavilion on 19 January 1942, and the premiere was attended by a group of members of Parliament interested in economic warfare. [5] The film was not well received by The Times, whose critic in 1942 found that "this particular hotch-potch is, as propaganda, woefully unconvincing. It is splendid to give audiences a glimpse of the devoted work done by the Services […] but actors got up as comic Nazi business men distort the lessons the more serious parts of the film are trying to drive home", [6] and modern film reviewers are not very much kinder to it. [7]

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  1. "News From The Talkie Studios". The Chronicle . Vol. LXXXIV, no. 4, 804. South Australia. 15 January 1942. p. 33. Retrieved 18 August 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  2. "Britain's New War Film". The Daily Telegraph . Vol. II, no. 42. New South Wales, Australia. 31 August 1941. p. 10. Retrieved 18 August 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  3. "San Demetrio LONDON". The World's News . No. 2214. New South Wales, Australia. 13 May 1944. p. 9. Retrieved 18 August 2018 via National Library of Australia. It intersperses actual film footage with sections of acting.
  4. "HIGHLIGHTS OF LONDON". Townsville Daily Bulletin . Vol. LXIII, no. 253. Queensland, Australia. 21 October 1941. p. 6. Retrieved 18 August 2018 via National Library of Australia.
  5. The Times, 20 January 1942, page 2: News in Brief - found in The Times Digital Archive on 26 February 2014
  6. The Times, 14 January 1942, page 6: "The Big Blockade" - Fact and Fiction - found in The Times Digital Archive on 26 February 2014
  7. Dr Keith M. Johnston: The Great Ealing Film Challenge 65: The Big Blockade (1942). Retrieved 27 February 2014