Seven Days to Noon (1950)

UK,
94m, 8,685 feet
35mm film, black and white, 1.37:1
mono, English

A British borderline science fiction film directed by Roy and John Boulting. The script was based on a story by former film critic Paul Dehn and James Bernard, later better known as a prolific composer for Hammer Film Productions and both men won an Academy Award for their work. The story was serialised in the News Chronicle newspaper in five parts by Denis Weaver.

Plot Summary

Professor Willingdon is so concerned with the way that the arms race is going that he steals a nuclear device hidden in a case. He threatens to detonate the weapon in if the British government doesn't end nuclear research within the week. As London is evacuated, the authorities race against time find Willingdon before he can destroy the city.

Credits

* = uncredited

Crew
Directed by: Roy and John Boulting
© [not originally given on screen]. Copyrighted London Film Productions, Inc. 1950 [added on video releases]
London Films present. The Boulting Brothers production. Charter Film Productions *. Distributed by British Lion Film Corporation
Produced by: Roy and John Boulting
Associate Producer: Peter de Sarigny
Production Manager: John Palmer
Screenplay by: Frank Harvey and Roy Boulting
From an original story by : Paul Dehn and James Bernard
Assistant Director: Mike Johnson
2nd Assistant Director: James Shingfield *, Bert Marotta *
2nd Unit Assistant Director: George Fowler *, Gerard Bryant *
Continuity: Shirley Barnes *
2nd Unit Continuity: E. Kelly *
Director of Photography: Gilbert Taylor
Associate Cameraman: Ray Sturgess
Camera Operators: Bob Huke, Gerald Moss, Dennis Fox
2nd Unit Camera Operator: Tony Young *
Focus Puller: Alfred Hicks *
2nd Unit Focus Puller: S.D. Fox *
Clapper: Stan Evans *
Stills Photography: Len Lee *
Edited by: Roy and John Boulting
Assembly Editor: Max Benedict
Music Composed by: John Addison
And played by the London Film Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by: Dr Hubert Clifford
Sound Recordist: Bert Ross
2nd Unit Sound Recording: Leo Wilkins *
Boom Operator: Eric Cass *
2nd Unit Boom Operator: Cyril Collick *
Sound Camera Operator: Basil Rootes *
Sound Maintenance: Alan Blay *
Sound Editor: Bert Eggleton
Assistant [Sound Editor]: Ann Chegwidden
Dubbing: Red Law
Western Electric Recording
Costume Designer: Honoria Plesch *
Wardrobe Mistress: Elsie Altryde *
Wardrobe Master: A. Walsh *
Make-up: U.P. Hutchinson
Make-up Artist: Peter Evans *
Supervising Hair Stylist: Joe Shear *
Hair Stylist: Anne Fordyce *
Designer of Settings: John Elphick
Production Secretary: Janet Dawson *
Locations: London, England, UK *
Produced at: London Film Studios, Shepperton, England
The producers gratefully acknowledge the co-operation of: The War Office; Metropolitan and City of London ; British Railways (Southern Region); London Transport Executive; Port of London Authority; The Automobile Association; The Royal Automobile Club; and the citizens of London
Casting: Dorothy Holloway *

Cast
Barry Jones was Professor [John] Willingdon
Olive Sloane was Goldie [Phillips]
Andre Morell was Superintendent Folland
Sheila Manahan was Ann Willingdon
Hugh Cross was Stephen Lane
Joan Hickson was Mrs Peckett
Ronald Adam was the prime minister [Arthur Lytton]
Marie Ney [Mrs Willingdon]
Wyndham Goldie [vicar]
Russell Waters [Detective Davis]
Martin Boddey [General Willoughby]
Frederick Allen [BBC announcer]
Victor Maddern [Private Jackson]
Geoffrey Keen [Alf, pub customer]
American commentator Merrill Mueller by courtesy of the National Broadcasting Company
Joss Ackland [station policeman] *
Jean Anderson [mother at train station] *
Sam Kydd [soldier in house search] *
Bruce Seton [Brigadier Grant] *
Marianne Stone [woman in phone box] *
Ian Wilson [sandwich board man] *
John Wilder [Detective Sergeant Carter] *
Ernest Clark [barber] *
John Kevan [Major Fanshawe] *
Henry McGee [soldier standing next to Private Jackson] *
Gerald Andersen, Patrick Baring, Gordon Bell, Esme Beringer, Van Boolen, Joan Boxer, Robert Brooks-Turner, Robin Cole, Michael Conry, Basil Cunard, Glyn Davies, Rupert Davies, Robert Dean, Charles Doran, Jim Duggan, Edwin Ellis, Arnold English, Alec Faversham, Louise Gainsborough, Willoughby Gray, Chris Halward, Mona Harrison, Helen Harvey, Walter Horsburgh, Peter Humphries, Elaine Inescourt, James Knight, Dennis Lehrer, Gordon Littman, Charles Mansell, Eve Martell, Geoffrey Matthews, Patrick Macnee, Peter Mitchell, Ernest Priest, Joe Pring, Malcolm Russell, George Selfe, Ella Starling, John Stamp, John Stratton, Dorothy Vernon, Jean Sheppard, Barry Wicks, John Warren, John Whitty, Michael Ward, Arthur Skinner, Graham Squire, Kenneth Luckman, Maurice Colbourne *
Trixie [dog]

Extracts included in
The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)
Science Fiction Theatre: The Green Bomb (1956)

Production Notes

Post-production
Shots of searching the sewers beneath London and of a searchlight sweeping across a deserted London street were re-used in The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) during the scenes depicting the search for astronaut Victor Carroon.

Continuity Errors
The full name of the character played by Barry Jones changes from scene to scene. In the scene where Superintendent Folland (Andre Morell) of first reads the letter his assistant Davis (Russell Waters) says his name is “Willingdon, John Francis”; his ID card seen at the research facility identifies him as “John Malcom Willingdon”; and later Davis is reading a report from a police officer who had been to see the vicar and refers to him as “J.K. Willingdon”.

Press

1950
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.17 no.200 (September 1950) p.136
Seven Days to Noon is a first class thriller with a theme of alarming topicality. The script does not make the mistake of opening on too high a note of excitement, and the transition from the common sense routine work of the opening scenes to the high tension of the last day of the hunt is admirably achieved. The exciting story gains point and realism from the skill with which the London scene has been handled, especially in the evacuation – the high level organization, the crowds packed into every possible means of transport, and then the shots of empty, silent streets. The location work for once catches the authentic atmosphere of the city. The makers of the film have had the courage to employ a cast lacking in all star names, and have been fully justified by the result. Particularly good are Barry Jones as the professor (making thoroughly convincing his obsession and the logic by which he explains his actions); Olive Sloane, comic and rather touching, and Joan Hickson, whose land lady is a character rather than a caricature. – from a review by P.H.

Variety 23 August 1950
A tense and topical theme is the main ingredient of this new British-made Boulting Bros. production. Story values, production qualities and forceful characterizations take precedence over star names. […] Much of the pic has been lensed on location in the London area. Many notable tourist spots are done from an unusual angle, and contribute towards establishing an authentic, dramatic atmosphere. […] Barry Jones' interpretation of the scientist is intelligent. His clearly defined portrait of the man no-one understands is a moving piece of acting. Principal female role, which is generously filled with comedy lines, is taken by Olive Sloane. She plays a former showgirl with rare gusto. Andre Morell has a typical role as the Scotland Yard detective, and there is a solid piece of acting by Ronald Adam as the Prime Minister. The actors are aided by a first rate script. Dialog is consistently pithy, with few chances for laughs overlooked, despite the seriousness of the theme. Production and editing by Roy Boulting and direction by John Boulting reach a good standard of craftsmanship. – from a review by Myro

Sight and Sound February vol.19 no.8 (December 1950) p.332
Advertisements for Seven Days to Noon address themselves to “the citizens of London”, appropriately, because the success of this thriller depends as much on the realism of the London scene as on the more commonplace power to excite. London, we know, is elusive. […] Seven Days to Noon is the story of a city under strain. The film […] is an alarmingly topical thriller – it is, perhaps, a mistake to read more into it, to make it a plea for or against atomic warfare. […] Barry Jones makes his fall into madness a believable appeal for understanding. His ultimatum, passing into the immensely capable hands of Andre Morell as a Special Branch Superintendent, introduces the chase, confined at first to the police, later to include all London. The Prime Minister broadcasts the facts to the nation; the evacuation of London is undertaken. In these scenes, detail is accumulated to play discreetly on the audience's memories and fears. Loaded , cars, , leave the city, until there are only the deserted streets, haunted by the and which their owners have been forced to abandon. The city streets, the Mall, the Belgravia squares, are caught by the camera in an empty, early morning light which lends its own strangeness to the scene. […] As a whole, Seven Days to Noon is solid, straightforward, and workmanlike in style, cleverly edited (by Roy Boulting) to convey the growing tension from a routine police investigation to a desperate race, and photographed (except in the last scene in a dramatically lit ruined church) simply and expressively. Above all, the Boultings seldom forget that the main purpose of the film is to keep the eye of the audience on the clock, as noon on the seventh day draws closer. Although it is obvious that London will not be destroyed, the inevitably happy ending comes with a real feeling of relief from suspense. – from an illustrated review (Retrospective reviews) by Penelope Houston

References

Periodicals

  • Film Industry vol.7 no.54 (11 August 1949) – review
  • Films in Review vol.2 no.2 (February 1951) p.36 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.17 no.200 (September 1950) p.136 – credits, synopsis, review (by P.H.)
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.181 no.13 (30 December 1950) p.641 – credits, review
  • The Picturegoer vol.20 no.808 (28 October 1950) p.15 – review
  • Sight and Sound February vol.19 no.8 (December 1950) p.332 – illustrated review (Retrospective reviews by Penelope Houston)
  • Today's Cinema vol.75 no.6060 (16 August 1950) – review
  • TV Times 16-22 July 1983 p.27 – review
  • TV Times 31 March – 6 April 1984 p.38 – credits
  • Variety 23 August 1950 – credits, review (by Myro)

Books

  • Creature Features Movie Guide Strikes Again by John Stanley p.342 – credits, review
  • by Walt Lee p.428 – credits
  • Science Fiction Film Source Book by David Wingrove p.201 – credits

Other sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide August 2013 p.38 – illustrated listing