The Ealing Films of the 40s and 50s
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The Ealing Films of the 40s and 50s

The Ealing comedy films of the 40s and 50s from Will Hay to Peter Sellers.

I want to talk about the Ealing film comedy’s of the 40s and 50s,

lets start with a will hay film from 1942

“The goose steps out”

The film is about a William Potts, (played by Will hay) The British have just captured a German spy who is the exact double of William Potts, he is sent into enemy territory to find out about a new secret weapon. Need I say more? Potts creates havoc but all is well in the end.

And so onto 1949 and the fabulous

“Passport to Pimlico”

it starred Stanley Holloway , Barbara Murray, John Slater, Sydney Tafler, Hermione Baddeley, Margaret Rutherford .

And a very young Charles Hawtrey who later found fame and fortune in the carry on films.

After the discovery of some treasure and a document Pimlico declares itself a country in its own right, the film leans on the “We won’t let them beat us” theme.

If you get the chance to see it, it’s how it was just after the Second World War in London.

Let move on to

Whisky Galore

It was for some reason called Tight Little Island in the USA who knows maybe they had something about the name Whisky?

Anyway the film is about a shipwreck on the shores of a Scottish island whose pub has just run out of Whisky. I ought to mention the ship was carrying a load of Whisky Need I say more.

The film was shot on. (As Fraser from “Dads Army would say.) “The lonely isle of Barra “

Another from 1949 was

Kind Hearts and Coronets

This is the one where Dennis Price kills of all the members of his family so he can inherit the title Alec Guinness plays eight members of the family who Dennis deals with in his own little way.

I want to skip a couple of years to 1951 and the wonderful

The Lavender Hill Mob

Alec Guinness this time plays a timid bank clerk in London who has been in charge of gold bullion, he meets up with Alfred Pendlebury, played by Stanley Holloway who owns a small foundry that makes presents and souvenirs the two of them plot to steal the gold turn it into little Eiffel towers and become rich needless to say all does not go to plan, I might add this is a “Must see film”

Again in 1952 The Man In The White Suit and 1953 we saw The Titfield Thunderbolt but I skipped these two because we now came to my all time favourite, the year is 1955 and the film was

The Ladykillers

A magical film about a group of criminals who plan to use, a little old innocent lady to rob the mail train The film stared.

• Alec Guinness as Professor Marcus

• Cecil Parker as Major Claude Courtney

• Herbert Lom as Louis Harvey

• Peter Sellers as Harry Robinson

• Danny Green as 'One-Round' Lawson

• Katie Johnson as Mrs Louisa Alexandra Wilberforce

• and Jack Warner as the police superintendent.

If you never see another film in your life you must see the Ladykillers

Ealing films went on to make many more film including

• The Feminine Touch (1956)

• Who Done It? (1956)

• The Long Arm (1956)

• Man in the Sky (1957)

• The Shiralee (1957)

• Barnacle Bill (1957)

• Davy (1957)

• Dunkirk (1958)

• Nowhere to Go (1958)

• The Siege of Pinchgut (1959)

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Comments (9)

I seem to be completely unfamiliar with any of these but I enjoyed the write up

Terrific write Johnny, very well researched and informative.I have not heard of many of these but I do love old films so it is possible I have seen them but just can't remeber their names. Fun read!

I used to love these films as a kid, talk about memory lane !

Great work, Johnny. Ealing produced some of the classics of British cinema. The Ladykillers is my favourite.

All new to me. Good post. Thanks.

really interesting write. I haven't heard of all of them but the Ladykillers rings a bell, I think maybe I saw it sometime!


I have seem every one of these fantastic Ealing films, many times over and would still watch every one whenever the chance came up.

There is one particular film starring Will Hay, I found this to be extremely funny. it is called.... Oh. Mr Porter, Convict 99. I would watch this one again and again. Of course, some of these films would not suit everyone, but I am well and truly tuned in to any Ealing comedy. Good article Johnny, TY:))

I saw the Tom Hanks remake of Lady Killers. I guess I need to visit my Netflix que and get some of these. They sound fantastic.

Ahh... Nostalgia! I love the old Ealing films. Thanks for the article Johnny