The Foreman Went to France

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The Foreman Went to France
The Foreman Went to France UK poster.jpg
Original UK quad format poster
Directed by Charles Frend
Screenplay by Leslie Arliss
John Dighton
Angus MacPhail
Story by J. B. Priestley
Produced by Michael Balcon
Starring Clifford Evans
Tommy Trinder
Constance Cummings
Gordon Jackson
Cinematography Wilkie Cooper
Edited by Robert Hamer
Music by William Walton
Distributed byUnited Artists Ltd (UK) [1]
Release date
  • 22 June 1942 (1942-06-22)(UK)
Running time
87 minutes [1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$562,000 [2]

The Foreman Went to France (released in the USA as Somewhere in France [3] ) is a 1942 British Second World War war film starring Clifford Evans, Tommy Trinder, Constance Cummings and Gordon Jackson.


It was based on the real-life wartime exploits of Welsh munitions worker Melbourne Johns, who rescued machinery used to make guns for Spitfires and Hurricanes. [4] [5] It was an Ealing Studios film made in 1941 with the support of the War Office and the Free French Forces. All of the 'heroes' are portrayed as ordinary people caught up in the war. [6]


In 1940, Welsh armaments factory foreman Fred Carrick goes to France on his own initiative to retrieve three large pieces of machinery for making cannon for Spitfires before the German army arrives. In Bivary, he requests the aid of two soldiers and, more importantly, the use of their army lorry. He also gets the help of the company secretary in France, an American woman who needs to go north to find her sister, a nurse.

While in France, Carrick learns about the role of the fifth column, and that even those in positions of authority, such as the town mayor, cannot always be trusted. During the race to the coast with the machines, he encounters a huge number of refugees fleeing the advancing Nazis and many more obstacles to hinder his progress. They take half-a-dozen orphaned children on their journey, entertaining the children with humorous songs.



Filmed during the war, location shooting for the scenes set in France was done in Cornwall, Kent, and Berkshire. [7] Filming took 12 months as it was continually interrupted by blitzes. [2]


Dr. Keith M. Johnston, lecturer in Film & Television Studies at the University of East Anglia, described it as "a strange little propaganda piece, a flashback-structured film that dramatises the 'true' story of Melbourne Johns ... Overall, this is a nicely done little film, but it survives largely because of a committed cast and some strong narrative elements." [5]

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  1. 1 2 BBFC: The Foreman Went to France - Distributor(s) United Artists Corp. Ltd Linked 6 December 2015
  2. 1 2 "Three War Films Set to Star Prod". Variety. 13 May 1942. p. 13. Retrieved 20 March 2023.
  3. Slide, Anthony: Some Joe You Don't Know: An American Biographical Guide to 100 British Television Personalities, page 124, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996 Linked 6 December 2015
  4. Duncan Higgitt. "War hero out of oblivion". Retrieved 1 August 2008.
  5. 1 2 Dr. Keith M. Johnson (5 March 2012). "The Great Ealing Film Challenge 50: The Foreman Went to France (1942)". HuffPost.
  6. Judith Cook, Priestley, London: Bloomsbury, 1997, p. 179
  7. "The Foreman Went to France". REELSTREETS. Retrieved 15 September 2021.