Ask a Policeman (1939)

UK, 1939
35mm film, black and white, 1.37:1
mono, English

A British comedy film with borderline horror elements directed by Marcel Varnel.

Plot Summary

Turnbottom Round may be proud of its record as a village with no crime, but it doesn’t do much for the pride of the local constabulary – especially when it’s realised that the only reason that the village is crime free is because Sergeant Dudfoot and his two constables, Jerry and Harbottle are so inept that they fail to notice what’s going on around them. They have a lot to prove when they go up against a smuggling ring – and a frightening headless horseman…


* = uncredited

Directed by: Marcel Varnel
© [not given on screen]
Gainsborough Pictures Ltd present
In Charge of Production: Maurice Ostrer *
Producer: Edward Black *
Screenplay: Edgar Marriott & Val Guest; John Orton *
Story: Sidney Gilliat
Script Editor: Frank Launder *
Photography: Derick Williams
2nd Unit Photography: Jack Parry *
2nd Unit Assistant Camera: George Hill *
Editing: R.E. Dearing
Cutting: Alfred Roome
Musical Direction: Louis Levy
Recording: S. Wiles
Recorded in full range recording at Islington, London
Settings: Vetchinsky
Production Assistant: Roy Ward Baker *
Racing scenes made with the cooperation of R.R. Jackson and members of The Brooklands Automobile Racing Club

Will Hay (Sergt. [Samuel] Dudfoot)
Graham Moffatt (Albert [Brown])
Moore Marriott ([Jerry] Harbottle[/Harbottle Sr])
Glennis Lorrimer (Emily [Martin])
Peter Gawthorne (Chief Constable [John Cronshaw])
Charles Oliver (the Squire [Montague Pennington])
Herbert Lomas (coastguard)
Patrick Aherne [motorist – uncredited]
Cyril Chamberlain [uncredited
Desmond Llewelyn [headless horseman – uncredited]

Extracts included in
Screen Test: 6 December 1979



  • Film Weekly vol.21 no.554 (27 May 1939) p.31 – review
  • Kine Weekly no.1670 (20 April 1939) p.25 – review
  • Kine Weekly no.1847 (10 September 1942) – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.6 no.65 (May 1939) p.91 – review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.135 no.4 (29 April 1939) p.54 – review
  • Today’s Cinema vol.52 no.4195 (19 April 1939) p.18 – review
  • Today’s Cinema vol.59 no.4772 (8 September 1942) p.9 – review


  • The British Film Catalogue 1895-1985: A Reference Guide by Denis Gifford catalogue number: 09582 – credits
  • British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928-1959 by David Quinlan pp.35-36 – credits, synopsis
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.20