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The story of a 1940 adventure in France by a British factory foreman against the advancing Germans; effective and exciting
on 22 August 2009
The Foreman Went to France:
(And please note that elements of the plot are just about to be discussed.) In 1940 deep in France, three special purpose machines sent from Britain to turn out guns for fighter planes sit in an abandoned factory right in the path of the advancing Germans. In London, one of the foremen from the British factory that produced the machines is determined to get them back to Britain. The Germans are just as determined to locate the machines. Fred Carrick (Clifford Evans), who can't speak French and has never traveled outside England, winds up on a French train heading toward the town where the machines are located. When he gets there, he discovers a young American woman, Anne Stafford (Constance Cummings), who worked at the factory and who stayed to burn important documents. Then two Tommies, Tommy Hoskins (Tommy Trinder) and Jock MacFarlane (Gordon Jackson), show up with a transport truck filled with hundreds of tins of curry powder. Fred quickly enlists their help. With a bit of shrewdness and good luck, they are able to deal with a fifth columnist working for the Germans and set out with the machines in the back of the lorry. Carrick's adventure is just beginning.
Fred Carrick finally gets his machines back to England, but only after experiencing a range of obstacles that would have defeated a man less imbued with British values than he. On the way to the French coast, he, Anne, Tommy and Jock see first hand what the Germans are doing...roads clogged with dazed refugees, German fighters indiscriminately strafing civilians, orphans left silent or hysterical as the nun who was taking care of them is shot and killed, a burning city glowing in the night, a hospital bombed, fifth columnists and traitors working for the Germans. And all the while, the German army is advancing right behind them. Propaganda? Absolutely, and not bad propaganda, either.
The Foreman Went to France works so well because it combines adventure, humor, resourcefulness and British pluck in an engrossing story. The message turns dark as we see what the Germans have in store for everyone, but then turns hopeful as we see how courage and resoluteness can win. Sure, the movie is dated, but in its time I suspect it was a very effective piece of work, especially as it was based on a true story. Today, it holds up well because the adventures are exciting, the cast does a good job...and who doesn't want to be on the side of the good guys against Hitler and his armies?
I've not seen this one but it's described as a Tommy Trinder vehicle of corny jokes and leggy girls set in ancient Rome. Trinder rose to the top through England's music halls and went on to films, radio and TV. He sings, prances, tells jokes and has a lot of teeth. He can be brash but he's also likeable. Probably my favorite Trinder movie of those I've watched is Champagne Charlie, a raucous ode to England's music halls of 150 years ago. Half of the movie is one song after another as Trinder and Stanley Holloway battle it out to be the top music hall performer of the age.
The Foreman Went to France is a favorite of mine. I think it's worth getting regardless of what you might eventually think of Fiddlers Three. As far as I know, this is the only release of Foreman on DVD. Might as well pick up the DVD of Champagne Charlie while you're at it.