The W Plan

Last updated

The W Plan
Theatrical poster
Directed by Victor Saville [1]
Marjorie Gaffney [1]
Screenplay byVictor Saville
Miles Malleson
Frank Launder
Based onthe novel, The W Plan
by Graham Seton [2]
Produced byVictor Saville
Starring Brian Aherne
Madeleine Carroll
Gibb McLaughlin
Gordon Harker
Cinematography René Guissart [1]
Freddie Young [1]
Edited by Maclean Rogers [1]
Music by John Reynders [1]
Distributed by Wardour Films (United Kingdom) [1]
RKO Radio Pictures (USA) [3]
Release dates
  • 15 June 1930 (1930-06-15)(United Kingdom) [1]
  • 15 March 1931 (1931-03-15)(US) [4]
Running time
87–105 minutes [4]
CountryUnited Kingdom

The W Plan is a 1930 British spy film produced and directed by Victor Saville and starring Brian Aherne, Madeleine Carroll, Gibb McLaughlin, and Gordon Harker. The screenplay was written by Saville with Miles Malleson and Frank Launder, based on the novel of the same name by Graham Seton. When the film was released in the United States, Aherne was appearing in The Barretts of Wimpole Street on Broadway, and receiving praise for his performance as Robert Browning. The film was a critical success, but did not do well at the box office.



Colonel Duncan Grant (Brian Aherne) is a British officer during World War I. When the British high command get wind of a German plan, titled The W Plan, from the lips of a dying German officer, Major Ulrich Muller (George Merritt), they send Grant behind enemy lines to learn the details. After successfully being dropped by airplane near the German town of Essen, where he makes his way to home of the dead German who was responsible for the plan. Grant is chosen because he speaks fluent German, having spent a significant amount of time in Germany prior to outbreak of hostilities. While in Essen, he runs into an old girlfriend, Rose Hartmann (Madeleine Carroll). When he and Rose go to a nearby café, he is approached by German officers and asked for his papers. While he has the documents taken from Muller, the Germans become suspicious, and Grant has to make a quick getaway. Unfortunately, the plane he is supposed to meet with to make his escape is shot down, after which Grant is arrested for desertion.

When he is about to be shot, he is instead sent to the very project he had been sent to Germany to learn about, The W Plan. It consists of a very elaborate series of underground works which are being dug beneath the British controlled territory, in order to collapse their lines. Grant succeeds in destroying a vital portion of the German underpinnings, and makes his escape back to British territory. The film ends with the allusion that he will meet up with Rose in Switzerland in the coming days.


(Cast list as per BFI database) [1]


While The W Plan did not do well at the US box office, [3] it did receive critical acclaim. Mordaunt Hall of The New York Times gave it a very positive review, applauding the acting of Aherne and Madeleine Carroll, and calling the picture, "... an exciting and splendidly staged English espionage melodrama," and the "... most satisfactory production sent over here from the Elstree Studios." [2]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Madeleine Carroll</span> English actress

Edith Madeleine Carroll was an English actress, popular both in Britain and America in the 1930s and 1940s. At the peak of her success in 1938, she was the world's highest-paid actress.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brian Aherne</span> English actor

William Brian de Lacy Aherne was an English actor of stage, screen, radio and television, who enjoyed a long and varied career in Britain and the United States.

<i>The Good Companions</i> (1933 film) 1933 film

The Good Companions is a 1933 British comedy film directed by Victor Saville starring Jessie Matthews, John Gielgud and Edmund Gwenn. It is based on the 1929 novel of the same name by J.B. Priestley.

<i>My Son, My Son!</i> 1940 film

My Son, My Son! is a 1940 American drama film based on a novel by the same name written by Howard Spring and directed by Charles Vidor. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction by John DuCasse Schulze.

<i>Hyde Park Corner</i> (film) 1935 film

Hyde Park Corner is a 1935 British comedy crime film, directed by Sinclair Hill and starring Gordon Harker, Binnie Hale and Eric Portman. Harker portrays a policeman investigating a crime in 1930s London, which proves to have its origins in the 1780s. The film takes its name from Hyde Park Corner in Central London where the events of the film occur. It was based on a play by Walter C. Hackett. The film was made at Welwyn Studios.

<i>Me and Marlborough</i> 1935 British film

Me and Marlborough is a 1935 British comedy film, directed by Victor Saville, and starring Cicely Courtneidge, Tom Walls, Barry MacKay, Peter Gawthorne, Henry Oscar and Cecil Parker.

<i>I Was a Spy</i> 1933 film

I Was a Spy is a 1933 British thriller film directed by Victor Saville and starring Madeleine Carroll, Herbert Marshall, and Conrad Veidt. Based on the 1932 memoir I Was a Spy by Marthe Cnockaert, the film is about her experiences as a Belgian woman who nursed German soldiers during World War I while passing intelligence to the British.

<i>Friday the Thirteenth</i> (1933 film) 1933 film

Friday the Thirteenth is a 1933 British drama film directed by Victor Saville and starring Jessie Matthews, Sonnie Hale and Muriel Aked.

<i>French Leave</i> (1930 film) 1930 film

French Leave is a 1930 British comedy film directed by Jack Raymond and starring Madeleine Carroll, Sydney Howard and Arthur Chesney. It was made at British and Dominions Elstree Studios. It is based on a play by Reginald Berkeley, a "light comedy in three acts", set during the First World War. It was remade in 1937 by Norman Lee.

The Crooked Billet is a 1929 British drama film directed by Adrian Brunel and starring Madeleine Carroll, Carlyle Blackwell and Miles Mander. It was released in both silent and sound versions, as its production came as the industry was shifting over. It was made by Gainsborough Pictures at their Islington Studios.

<i>Kitty</i> (1929 film) 1929 film by Victor Saville

Kitty is a 1929 British drama film directed by Victor Saville and starring Estelle Brody and John Stuart. The film was adapted from the 1927 novel of the same name by Warwick Deeping and marked the third co-star billing of Brody and Stuart, who had previously proved a very popular screen pairing in Mademoiselle from Armentieres (1926) and Hindle Wakes (1927).

<i>The School for Scandal</i> (1930 film) 1930 film

The School for Scandal is a 1930 British historical comedy film directed by Thorold Dickinson and Maurice Elvey and starring Basil Gill, Madeleine Carroll and Ian Fleming. It is the first sound film adaptation of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play The School for Scandal. It is also the only feature-length film shot using the unsuccessful Raycol colour process, and marked the screen debut of Sally Gray. The film was shot at the Elstree Studios of British International Pictures with sets designed by the art director Lawrence P. Williams. It ended up being released as a second feature and is classified as a quota quickie.

<i>Madame Guillotine</i> (1931 film) 1931 film

Madame Guillotine is a 1931 British historical romance film directed by Reginald Fogwell and starring Madeleine Carroll, Brian Aherne and Henry Hewitt. It was shot at Isleworth Studios.

<i>Warn That Man</i> 1943 British film

Warn That Man is a 1943 British comedy thriller film directed by Lawrence Huntington and starring Gordon Harker, Raymond Lovell and Finlay Currie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Graham Seton Hutchison</span> British Army officer, author and fascist activist

Lieutenant-Colonel Graham Seton Hutchison was a British First World War army officer, military theorist, author of both adventure novels and non-fiction works and fascist activist. Seton Hutchison became a celebrated figure in military circles for his tactical innovations during the First World War but would later become associated with a series of fringe fascist movements which failed to capture much support even by the standards of the far right in Britain in the interbellum period. He made a contribution to First World War fiction with his espionage novel, The W Plan.

<i>The White Sheik</i> (1928 film) 1928 film

The White Sheik, also known as King's Mate, is a 1928 British silent adventure film directed by Harley Knoles and starring Lillian Hall-Davis, Jameson Thomas and Warwick Ward. It was based on the novel King's Mate by Rosita Forbes.

The Arcadians is a 1927 British comedy film directed by Victor Saville, and starring Ben Blue, Jeanne De Casalis and Vesta Sylva. It is a silent adaptation of the musical The Arcadians. It is on the BFI 75 Most Wanted list of missing films, but the British Film Institute has reported that an "incomplete and deteriorating nitrate print ... was apparently viewed prior to July 2008". It was made at the Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush.

<i>Spy for a Day</i> 1940 British film

Spy for a Day is a 1940 British comedy thriller film directed by Mario Zampi and starring Douglas Wakefield, Paddy Browne and Jack Allen. The screenplay concerns a British farmer who is abducted by the Germans during World War I.

<i>There Goes Susie</i> 1934 British film

There Goes Susie is a 1934 British comedy film directed by Victor Hanbury and John Stafford and starring Gene Gerrard, Wendy Barrie, and Zelma O'Neal. Based on a story by Charlie Roellinghoff and Hans Jacoby, it was made by British International Pictures at Elstree Studios. It is a remake of the 1933 German film Marion, That's Not Nice. A separate Italian version Model Wanted was also made.

Two's Company is a 1936 British comedy film directed by Tim Whelan and starring Ned Sparks, Gordon Harker and Mary Brian.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "The W Plan". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 18 August 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  2. 1 2 Hall, Mordaunt (23 March 1931). "The W Plan: For King and Country". New York Times. Archived from the original on 18 August 2014. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  3. 1 2 Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. p. 34. ISBN   0-517-546566.
  4. 1 2 "The W Plan". Retrieved 18 August 2014.