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  • A wartime evacuee from London arrives in a small Scottish village to stay in Mrs Barrington's cottage. However the arrival of a wounded Spitfire pilot and a mysterious bald gentleman means the boy must stay in the Barrington's house. At the house Mr Barrington and his assistant are working on a top-secret new bombsight to help the war effort. Ronald begins to notice strange behaviour in the village and gradually uncovers a plot to steal the bomb sight when it is developed.

    This is a typically jaunty British wartime adventure which contains some gentle laughs and a quite good `who-done-it' style plot. Our eyes come in the form of cockney scamp Ronald as he notices some strange going on. The film manages to keep the mystery going by giving each character shadowy motives - we're not sure if they are a spy, a policeman, a rogue after the ladies, a scorned lover or what - but they all seem to have something going on. This makes it more enjoyable that it sounds and it isn't until the final 20 minutes when it all starts to come together. The famous cast makes it enjoyable - surely none of them could be the spy!?

    George Cole shows his lifetime career in a good performance as a cheeky cockney scamp. Mills enjoys himself in his usual war hero role. Leslie Banks plays it straight as the inventor Mr Barrington, while Alistair Sim has the most fun in his shadowy role (he would later work with Cole as an adult on the St Trinians series). The only other role that stands out is De Casalis as the dippy Mrs Barrington, she gives plenty of gentle laughs.

    Overall a gentle wartime adventure that has plenty of mystery and nice touches to keep you interested.
  • From the jaunty opening scenes to the thrilling ending, you could be forgiven for thinking 'Cottage To Let' was made during the post war period. But this film was released in 1941, when the outcome of the war was still in the balance.

    The cast reflects the wealth of talent available in the British Film Industry at this time and for two decades onwards. Not a false note is struck: Jeannie De Casalis makes me laugh out loud playing the dotty wife (check out her introduction speech for John Mills at the fête). Leslie Banks turns in a precise low key performance. He is an antidote to all the eccentric and unbalanced scientists that were/are the staple of cinema-land. Michael Wilding is urbane and, in his scenes, a good foil for a crumpled Alistair Sim, or the intense and faintly menacing John Mills.

    Sim, of course, had managed to get his protégé George Cole the part of Ronald. Cole had (I think) already played this role on the stage, but took to the sound stage like a fish to water. He moved and acted as if born to boom and camera. In an idle moment compare young George as Ronald with middle-aged George as Arthur Daley in TV's Minder. It's all there: the sideway looks, aggrieved voice, controlled energy, sheer believable and likable personality.

    The film scores on all points for me. The script is realistic and economical, the supporting cast firmly wedded into the few sub-plots. Even the sets, one or two seem to have migrated from other films, are splendid and evocative. And the final denouement is probably one of the most menacing in wartime film, if not the wettest.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Wordy? A little. But this British home-front spy mystery from 1941 is also fine entertainment, reasonably exciting and features two first-rate performances by Alastair Sim as the suspicious Charles Dimble and 16-year-old George Cole as the 15-year-old London kid, Ronald, resourceful and energetic. Ronald thinks Sherlock Holmes is "the greatest man whatever lived" and is pretty good at deducing things. Bear in mind that Sim and his wife took Cole into their household when he was a boy and became Cole's foster parents. Sim saw to Cole's education. When Cole wanted to become an actor like Sim, Sim also saw to Cole's training. They appeared together in more than a dozen movies, not as a team but as two skilled comic actors.

    John Barrington (Leslie Banks) is a brilliant, eccentric British inventor. He works at his grand manor house in Scotland and has almost developed a revolutionary bomb sight. The Nazis want his secrets, preferably with Barrington as well. Barrington has a flighty, well-meaning wife (at one point she kindly tells Ronald, who has nearly destroyed a suit of armor, "Never mind, never mind. Just forget what a nuisance you are.") and a good-looking daughter. He also has an assistant who longs for the daughter. Suddenly the cottage on their grounds, which had been up for rent, is taken over as a military hospital. In it goes Flight Lieutenant Perry (John Mills), a Spitfire pilot who had to bail out and landed in a nearby loch with a bad arm. Then there's Dimble, who says he had arranged to rent the cottage and now has nowhere to stay. He's put up in a room next to Perry. There's young, confident Norman, sent up from London because of the blitz and lodged in the manor house. There's the butler, a bull-necked, taciturn man who was recently hired and a housekeeper who leaves with little notice. And before long we see Dimble has a revolver, Perry makes odd phone calls, Barrington seems over-confident, his assistant seems unduly interested in the bombsight and we learn Scotland Yard and MI-something have each sent a man up there. They have learned a Nazi spy ring has targeted Barrington and now has an agent in place. But who are the spies and who are Barrington's protectors? Well, one of the Nazi agents is not hard to figure out and one of the protectors is. The fun is in seeing how the game is played.

    Cottage to Let has serious themes and clever characterizations. Bannister's well-bred wife comes from the Billie Burke school of thespianism, well-meaning and ditzy. Addressing the townsfolk who have come to the manor for the annual pageant, she quotes Churchill in honoring all the volunteers, "Never," she says, "has so much owed so many to so little." There's snappy dialogue, plenty of skullduggery, a shoot-up escape and death by rolling millstone. It's always fun to listen to the careful, well-bred diction of the upper-class coming from actors of assorted backgrounds who had to learn how to speak "properly" if they were to get leading roles. So many "girls" to be turned into "gels," so many a "here" and a "dear" to be turned into a nasal "heah" and a nasal "deah." The main actors all do fine jobs, but once again it's Alastair Sim who captures the movie. He was a superb actor with a unique style, and he is just about impossible not to watch. With Cottage to Let, however, his foster son, George Cole, just about gives him a run for his money. Cole turns in a supremely assured job as the supremely assured Norman, no one's fool yet still a very likable young man.
  • Cottage to Let (1941)

    There are so many characters, so many tinges of British accent, and such a parade of turncoats and double agents it's difficult to quite follow everything here. But stick it out. Or, in the extreme case (which I admit taking) see it twice. It's "quite worth it, I dare say."

    A comedy on the surface, and quite funny all through, it's also a serious war movie, shot and released in the thick of World War II. The key theme is actually not the bomb sight design and the attempt by the government to protect its secret from spies. It's about loose lips. And looking for traitors among us.

    So, here at this cottage near where a top scientist is working on a secret weapon idea, there is a parade of suspicious characters, and I mean characters, including the redoubtable Alastair Sim. There is a nutty family running the place, a couple of love affairs in the air, a bunch of secret messages sent by various messengers. I count rough twelve characters who matter, and if some are very minor, they are critical in some small way to the outcome. Allegiances are everything.

    What makes the movie actually remarkable is that it holds to together so well. And it has a tight economy to the editing, and a fluidity to the filming, that keeps it really going. For some reason the lighting in the first half, and the interior scenes in general, is bright and flat (no Warner Bros. influence here I guess) but then there are some scenes later that are extraordinary in their dramatic atmosphere.

    In fact, there are some ideas that prefigure famous later ones, like the auction that is interrupted by spies and good guys by bidding incorrectly, stolen by Hitchcock in "North by Northwest." Or even the ending which is a slim version of the mirror shootout by Welles in "Lady from Shanghai." It's quite an exciting finish (never mind the goofy millstone moment, which you'll see).

    Anthony Asquith, the director, went on to make some mainstays of post-war British cinema, and that's yet another reason to appreciate this, as a precursor to his own work. But it also reveals a real intelligence for the movies. Evident and appreciated.

    In the big view, it isn't the plot, which is necessarily contrived to give a message to the nation, but the many pieces, and the writing and acting in those pieces, that make the movie really strong. The one version out there (streaming on Netflix) is a weak print (and there is no DVD release, apparently) so the sound and even the richness of the visuals will hamper a good appreciation. Even so, give it a look. Alertly.
  • blanche-229 April 2013
    I plow through the '40s and '50s black and white films, usually Bs, and occasionally I find a real gem. "Bombsight Stolen," or "Cottage to Let," its American name, is one.

    Based on a play, it stars Leslie Banks, Jeanne De Casalis, Alistair Sim, Michael Wilding, John Mills, and George Cole.

    The activity centers around a Scottish cottage, where the Barringtons live. The cottage currently serves several purposes: a place for evacuees, a hospital when a downed British airman (Mills) is found nearby, a place for the annual fair, and a science lab, as Mr. Barrington (Banks) is a military inventor. When Mr. Dimble (Alistair Sim) shows up to rent the cottage, he finds out it's not for rent and moves into the house.

    The Nazis want Barrington's inventions, so MI-5 and Scotland Yard each have a man in the house. Who are they? Is there a mole among them? Very enjoyable film, with a hilarious performance by Jeanne De Casalis, the lady of the house who can't keep anything straight. It's the showiest role. Alistair Sim is excellent, as is young John Mills and Sims' protégé, George Cole. I have a feeling the part of Ronald (Cole) was intended for an actor a couple of years younger. He evidently played the role on the stage, which would have been earlier.

    Charming film, well directed by Anthony Asquith, with some interesting scenes that take place in the annual fair fun house at the end.
  • An enjoyable piece of British wartime entertainment, probably to be appreciated more now than by audiences at the time, (who would have found it very 'stagey' and lacking in action, I suspect). The plot is nothing in particular and its stage origins are all too apparent in the set locations, which cover the cottage of the title acting as a lodging house, home for evacuated children from London and a military hospital (????) whilst, up at 'the Big House', there is a 'top-secret' research laboratory, (which you know is 'top secret' as one of the (numerous) doors has a sliding panel in it),(but which actually seems to have more people entering and leaving it in the course of the film than the lounge of the 'Dog and Duck'), country gentry residence and garden fête venue. The real strength of the film, though, is its very strong cast. Leslie Banks is quite watchable on as the lead and John Mills is his usual, (for the period), photogenic, brylcreemed RAF fighter pilot hero, (or IS he?), who delivers in the usual sound manner. George Cole makes his first film appearance as one of two Cockney scamps evacuated to the 'cottage', (although the other one disappears from view entirely after the first five minutes!), and one can already see him mentally in a mini-sheepskin coat and with a cigarillo in hand as he begins his apprenticeship for greater glories to come in his career. Alastair Sim is, as usual, extremely good value for money and always watchable. The REAL star, though, I thought, was Jeanne De Casalis as the dotty 'Lady of the Manor', showing marvellous comic timing, interacting with all the rest of the cast flawlessly, (catch her expression when the little girl who has just handed her a bouquet of flowers at the opening of the fête wants it back!), and having me in stitches with her spoonerisms, ("Are you the lad with the manor? I'm sorry, I meant the man with the ladder?"), and, above all, her speech opening the fête; ("In the words of our dear Prime Minister, never was so much owed by so few to so many"). Somehow, one just cannot see film-makers of the time doing the same to speeches of their leader in the Kremlin! I shall certainly watch out for any other films starring this lady.
  • I've just watched Cottage to Let for the first time and found it quite enjoyable.

    A motley collection of people come to stay at a cottage in Scotland including a scientist, pilot, a boy who is an evacuee from London and a new tenant. Soem of the people staying here are actually spies who plan to kidnap the scientist. The evacuee becomes suspicious and the butler is actually an undercover copper. The scientist is kidnapped towards the end and the evacuee gets caught up in all this and all are locked up in a room. The kidnappers get arrested and the pilot, who is one of them is shot dead at the end.

    Cottage to Let is worth having just for the excellent cast, mostly British: Leslie Banks (Jamaica Inn), Alastair Sim (Scrooge), the late, great Sir John Mills (Scott of the Antarctic, Tiger Bay), a young George Cole (Minder)in his movie debut as the evacuee Ronald and one of Liz Talyor's many husbands, Michael Wilding.

    This is worth watching, especially if you are into old movies. Great fun.

    Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This all-too busy spy drama is a mixture of clever comedy and patriotic propaganda, as Nazi's are discovered in the oddest of places. Characters assumed to be bad are actually good, and vice versa. Certain other loyalties are revealed to be up in the air. Sometimes it is all a bit too much, but there's plenty of intrigue to keep you hooked. At times, it is a bit all over the map as to where it is going and what the script is talking about, but then the excitement starts up again, and you are back on the right road. This really hits its mark in the last five minutes when the villain finds himself cornered and manages to outwit pretty much everybody around them. Almost Hitchcock-like in nature, there is a fine cast of British acting vets, lead by Leslie Banks, John Mills and most notably, Alastair Sim in a way which you won't expect to see him. A fast- talking kid also deserves a lot of credit, giving a performance that seems so natural you would think that the producers just grabbed some teenager off the street and threw a script into his hand.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Cottage to let" borrows heavily from the works of such popular British novelists of the 1930s as John Buchan,Dornford Yates and "Sapper".Kidnapped scientists,plucky schoolboys,cold -eyed detectives,dastardly German spies and pretty girls with summer dresses and wide-brimmed hats filled their pages.Now considered "Fascist",racist","imperialist"and probably several other "ists" I've never heard of,in more sensible times they were thought of as "good reads",nothing more,nothing less. In the movie the inventor of a secret bombsight is kidnapped by dastardly German spies and saved by the intervention of a plucky schoolboy and a cold - eyed detective. There is a splendidly Hitchcockian Auction scene where Mr John Mills as an injured RAF pilot picks up a warming pan by the handle and asks "What's this - a banjolele?"thus encapsulating in one word the whole era. Mr Alistair Sim is a sardonic Scottish detective,Miss Jeanne de Casalis (on the wireless as Mrs Shufflewick/Pennyfeather) splendidly dotty as the spooneristic posh lady. Young master George Cole is a role model for schoolboys carving Spitfires from bits of firewood during the blackout. Thoroughly enjoyable wartime entertainment at the expense of the dastardly Germans(sorry,our European partners - oops!I now await the midnight knock on the door)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Leslie Banks (John Barrington), Alastair Sim (Charles Dimble), John Mills (Lieutenant George Perry), Jeanne de Casalis (Mrs Barrington), Carla Lehmann (Helen Barrington), George Cole (Ronald Mittsby), Michael Wilding (Alan Trentley), Frank Cellier (John Forest), Muriel Aked (Miss Fernery), Catherine Lacey (Mrs Stokes), Wally Patch (Evans), Muriel George (Mrs Trim), Hay Petrie (Dr Truscott), Sydney Tafler (RAF man), Peter Gawthorne (senior RAF officer), Arthur Hambling (Scotland Yard man), Roddy Hughes (new German agent at agency), Charles Rolfe (piano tuner), (Ben Williams (fisherman rescuer), Brefni O'Rorke (police inspector), Annie Esmond (bazaar parcel lady).

    Director: ANTHONY ASQUITH. Screenplay: Anatole de Grunwald, J. O. C. Orton. Based on the stage play by Geoffrey Kerr. Photography: Jack Cox. Film editor: R. E. Dearing. Film cutting: Charles Saunders. Art director: Alex Vetchinsky. Music composed by Charles Williams. Music director: Louis Levy. Assistant director: Michael Anderson. Sound supervisor: B. C. Sewell. Sound recording: Sid Wiles and M. Hobbs. British Acoustic Sound System. Mr Asquith's services were obtained by arrangement with Paramount British. Producer: Edward Black. Executive producer: Maurice Ostrer.

    A Gainsborough Picture, released in the U.K. by General Film Distributors, 6 September 1941; in Australia by G-B-D, 29 October 1942; in the U.S.A. by J. Arthur Rank. Made at Lime Grove Studios. Registered: August 1941. "A" certificate. 90 minutes. No New York opening. U.S. release title: Bombsight Stolen.

    SYNOPSIS: Spies plan to kidnap the inventor of a bomb-sight.

    NOTES: Film debut of George Cole.

    COMMENT: Well above average spy melodrama with a really stunning climax. Very slow to get moving but the plot, once it starts, really engages the attention.

    Asquith's direction is never less than highly competent, and he has drawn some splendid performances from a remarkably skillful group of actors who keep us guessing right up to the climax as to the actual identity of the spy.

    And even when the player concerned finally shows his colors, we still expect to find that he is actually a counterspy.

    Yes, the final action sequences are well worth waiting for. They're staged with an absolutely brilliant finesse that was so much admired by Orson Welles that he copied the idea in "The Lady from Shanghai" (1948).

    Did Orson's super-charged version do it better? I don't think so. And in the Welles film, it's one of the support players (Glenn Anders) who walks away with the acting honors. In this film, it's hard to choose between John Mills, Alastair Sim, George Cole and Michael Wilding. All of them show sufficient quirks to qualify.

    Appealing support is provided by Jeanne de Casalis as a typical aristocratic eccentric, the lovely Carla Lehmann as the love interest, Frank Cellier as the cabinet minister, and Wally Patch as the obliging Evans.
  • Watching Cottage To Let one can hope that Leslie Banks learns a valuable lesson. That no matter how much privacy he craves in his work during war time other considerations like security prevail. Of course being kidnapped by the Nazis might be a learning experience.

    That's what happens here in Cottage To Let, a wartime British film taken from a stage play by actor/writer Frederick Kerr. Banks lives with wife and daughter at a Scottish estate with the usual gang of servants, a young evacuee from the London blitz George Coe and he has his one assistant Michael Wilding for his scientific research which is now directed toward inventing a new 100% accurate bomb sight for the RAF. And from the RAF he has a downed flier from the Battle Of Britain, Flight Lieutenant John Mills.

    Other than Banks and Coe, absolutely no one is who they seem to be. Some are spies, some are security, the trick is to figure out which is which and I guarantee you won't be 100% right. Even Coe who says that his hero is Sherlock Holmes "the smartest man whoever lived" doesn't get it right though his suspicions do lead to the unmasking of who is who.

    Even though Cottage To Let is dated and fixed in the time of wartime UK it still is quite enjoyable with some really good performances.
  • Two bad-guy Nazi guards with guns return to the entry room of a mill where Banks, Cole and the Scotland Yard detective/butler are being held in the inner room. Check. It's all over for these two Nazi agents. The handwriting is on the mill wall. Militia is outside, surrounding them, shooting through the windows. The baddies' gun ammunition is likely low, as they've been shooting a lot. I didn't notice they brought extra rounds. Check.

    Problem solving is no longer necessary for our hostage three. They clearly heard the rescuing ruckus. All they have to do is bide their time and enjoy their rescue. They don't have to bother to fulfill any escape plan.

    But no, here comes their superfluous special effect. A large, heavy millstone is lever-ready to come crashing through the door connecting the inner room to the mill entry. Only it's narrower than about a third of a man's body, and quite unlikely to remain upright for more than a foot length of travel if levered and pushed. Makes you wonder how this point was staged in the play format this film was based on.

    Now if you were a Nazi/bad guy, would you stand around huddled next to your pal in perfect line with the approaching stone, or would you have good enough reflexes to just hop aside? A second or two of warning is all you'd need to get out of the way, as the stone improbably lumbers along its slow, inexplicably upright gravitational path. The baddies stare at it and get in line for the impact.

    Well this film still gets 9 stars from me out of 10, mainly for the entertaining interplay between comedy and intrigue, and for the excellent cast and script, and overall sweetness, despite credulity-bending here and there. Enjoyable movie for a rainy afternoon.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Better than you might expect from the British film industry at the height of the country's distress in 1941.

    It's a diverting and mostly comic mystery with a clotted plot. A cottage in rural Scotland is owned by the local aristocrat, Mrs. Barrington. She's a youngish woman with good intentions but with the insight of one of those vines whose leaves curl when you touch them.

    "Pay no attention to the fact that you're such a nuisance," she tells one resident of the cottage. And, "I want you to do anything here you like except don't touch anything." And when Sims introduces himself, saying, "I'm Dimble," she puts a hand on his arm and replies, "Oh, I'm so sorry."

    This "cottage", by the way, is what most of us would call "a pretty big house." That's how it can be converted into a war time facility -- a hostel for young evacuees from London, a local hospital, a site for fund-raising bazaar, the laboratory of a bomb sight inventor.

    It appears that the inventor's secrets are somehow being conveyed to the Nazis. There are twists and turns in the plot, which I won't describe, except to say that there is one German agent and one double agent -- I think that's the term -- among the inhabitants.

    The film gets kinetic towards the end, with fist fights and shootings. It sheds its comic tone and turns into a thriller. That doesn't prevent one character from rolling a giant millstone over two armed enemies and commenting, "Two birds with one stone."

    Not to be taken seriously, and sometimes positively amusing.
  • Others have discussed the plot and acting in "Cottage to Let" (aka, "Bombsight Stolen"). To tell too much would take away from the enjoyment of this film. Some have said it has a slow start. But without such a background and build-up for so many characters, I think we'd be lost. At least one reviewer doubted the probability of such a scenario. I agree with the majority that this is an excellent war mystery and spy thriller. The cast is superb, with some big names of English theater and filmdom – John Mills, Alastair Sim, Michael Wilding, Leslie Banks, and others. And, it has an excellent supporting cast.

    Of course, this is a fiction story, as are so many of war-time. But as to the likelihood of something like it happening or not, one should consider some other factors. This movie was released in England on Sept. 6, 1941. The U.S. was not as yet in the war, even though most of Europe by then had been overrun by Nazi Germany. The official start of World War II was two years earlier. On Sept. 3, 1939, Britain and France had declared war on Germany after it invaded Poland.

    The Battle of Britain was waged from July 10 to Oct. 31, 1940, with Germany bombing London, major ports, and other large cities. Even after Britain won this battle for air superiority, Germany continued to bomb London and other cities. As this film noted, Londoners sent their children to country locations to keep them safe from the bombing raids. And, in fact, many British secret operations, including research and war design work were in locales across the country – away from the population and large military bases.

    Even after the U.S. entered the war and began sending troops to England in 1942, the Allies continued to disperse many of their war-time operations across the countryside. Many special projects were going on, none of which would be common knowledge to the public or reported in the press at the time. Only after the war did we learn about them. Movies have been made about some even decades later. All are interesting tales. Among the ones I've seen and enjoyed are: "Secret Flight" (aka, "School for Secrets") in 1946; "The Small Back Room" (aka, "Hour of Glory") in 1949; "The Dam Busters" in 1955; and "Enigma" in 2001.

    England had its share of German spies. British intelligence agencies broke up some German espionage rings working for the Abwehr, the German military intelligence service. And, Germany had tried to land agents by submarine in Scotland. No one knew or could imagine to what extent German agents or spies may be operating in England. So, this film was timely as well.

    I am curious though, about the late date of release of the film in the U.S. – May of 1943, Most of the British-made films during the war were released a year or more later in the U.S. One reviewer said that the Brits preferred American war films to those of the British film studios. I doubt there is any movie attendance or other data that would lend credence to such a statement. I'm sure the British public was drawn to all the war films that were being made at the time, regardless of the country source. No doubt, Englanders wanted to see some of the American movie stars they had come to know. At the same time, British studios were putting out some excellent films. Among them were "One of Our Aircraft is Missing," "Went the Day Well?," "In Which We Serve," "The Way Ahead," "49th Parallel," "Fires Were Started," "Convoy," "Freedom Radio," "The Day Will Dawn," "The Next of Kin," "The Foreman Went to France," "The Bells Go Down," "The Silver Fleet," and "Undercover."

    Many of the British post-war films also were excellent. I enjoy these films immensely, because they give us a look at the war from the eyes of British servicemen and public. Just as American films give others a view through Americans' eyes. The quality of the DVD I have with this film is rather poor. I hope a digitally mastered DVD will be produced one day soon.
  • "Cottage to Let" is a long way from being one of the better films about the Second World War made during it, but it does have a curiosity value.

    It shows its origins as a stage-play, with the action concentrated on a house that curiously combines the roles of a private home, military hospital (staffed by its owner and daughter but apparently lacking trained nurses) and secret laboratory, and which also takes in an evacuee in the shape of George Cole. He does very well in his first film, but at 16 looks a bit too old and big (almost as tall as some of the adult men) in the part of someone I imagine was meant to be a bit younger.

    Interestingly, one actor appears to play a character that contrasts with his usual roles, and another does.

    The plot has several holes in it, of the type "how did so-and-so know that", and if I was that bothered or was bored I might run the recording through again to see it it makes a bit more sense. One puzzling scene early on involving a phone call does fall into place much later in the film.
  • A very brisk, lightly entertaining wartime thriller with quite an exciting ensemble cast, the film is however burdened down by a strange, ill-explained plot, which borders both on being contrived and confusing. The characters are also rather run-of-the-mill, but they do interact quite well together. The picture has some interesting ideas, some neat mirror work, and it is generally amusing stuff. Overall nothing too special or highly memorable, but it has enough mystery elements and thriller elements worked into it that it is able to provide adequate entertainment, even if it is not a perfect watch as such.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In a lonely cottage, in the Scottish Highlands, an RAF pilot (John Mills) who has been, shot down,and rescued from the loch, is nursed back to health by the local people. The cottage is located in the grounds of a large house, which is being used by a scientist and his assistants to perfect a revolutionary bomb sight. Into this setting comes a young George Cole as an evacuee, and together with Alistair Sim, they try and unmask a German spy.
  • A cranky scientist is working on a new bomber sight for use against the Nazis. He's holed up in a cottage in Scotland so he can work in private.

    However, the place turns into a bit of a circus, with more and more people turning up. Clearly, the Germans are after his invention. But who is the bad guy? The weird new lodger? The butler? The wounded pilot? The cook? And who is the GOOD guy, trying to foil the Nazi plot?

    This is a light thriller, with some fine actors (Mills, Sim, and a teen-aged George Cole in his first role) and some good plot twists. But because of the vein of humor throughout, it's hard to get emotionally involved even when the good guys are in peril. There are some scenes reminiscent of Hitchcock (the auction, the barn scene, the hall of mirrors), but in his hands, they would have been truly tense.

    This is definitely worth a watch, if you are a fan of British films of the WW2 era, or if you enjoy Alastair Sim as much as I do. But all considered, it's a thriller without much of a thrill.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    During WWII, there were tons of propaganda films made in the US and Britain to bolster the war effort. Most of them were pretty good and did a good job of mustering support for the war, though quite a few of them (like this film) seem awfully far-fetched when seen today. Now this ISN'T to say that they are bad films or that they are so difficult to believe that it ruins them--it surely doesn't. You just need to suspend disbelief and sit back and enjoy them for what they were intended.

    COTTAGE TO LET is a dandy little film that packs some excellent stars and performances into it. It's very heavy with stars, having Leslie Banks, Alistair Sim and John Mills. However, while certainly not a star at the time or even one for many years to come, I really enjoyed young George Cole's performance as the precocious teen, Ronald. Despite all these stars, he managed to more than hold his own as a character who was almost like Sherlock Holmes and Dennis the Menace rolled into one! The story, as I said, is tough to believe. Having one or two Nazi spies in Britain during the war was indeed believable, but having so many more and such a complicated plot wasn't. Plus, while you could believe them perhaps stealing some plans or killing a scientist, having an elaborate plot where they kidnap the scientist and take him all the way back to Berlin UNDETECTED is far-fetched. However, in addition to the good acting, the plot was entertaining--so much so that you could ignore all the impossibilities and improbabilities.

    Overall, while not a great film, it is a fine example of wartime British cinema and is entertaining and fun.
  • This is a wartime thriller made by the British studio Gaumont ( Okay it's French studio but so what ! ) and it'seasy to see why a British audience preferred American movies to homegrown ones . Everything about the first twenty minutes is tedious in the extreme with some very clumsy character introduction and stereotyping , the cheeky cockney chappie played by a very young George Cole , a fighter pilot played by John Mills and a bunch of Scots played by people with strange Scottish accents that sound extremely forced . Did I say this is a thriller ? it's important to realise this because for the first twenty minutes I had no idea what genre this was going to be

    This is a great pity because COTTAGE TO LET soon builds up to a fascinating and compelling espionage thriller . A British scientist is suspected of passing secrets over to the Nazis and Special Branch and MI5 set about trying to infiltrate a spy ring where everyone is a suspect . While never reaching the heights of the later WENT THE DAY WELL this movie works in reminding a wartime audience that anyone could be a Nazi spy and if it had a better opening this would be a far better regarded film . As it stands I had no knowledge to its existence until it was broadcast on Cannel 4 a couple of days ago and had to force myself to stay with it until the plot proper took off
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Puffin Asquith turned out three films in 1941 and one of the others was Quiet Wedding which was, like this one, an adaptation of a stage play - in fact Puffin made something of a speciality of this and adapted several Rattigan plays for the screen most notably the masterpiece The Browning Version - and here the origins definitely show. It's the kind of play that no one writes any more - like Esther McCracken's Quiet Wedding - the typical 'Home Counties' romantic comedy with mandatory French Windows and parlour maids but now tarted up with a 'topical' plot reflecting the war, then in its third year. Sixteen year old George Cole reprised his stage role to good effect and worked well with mentor Alistair Sim, Leslie Banks and John Mills. As in the play - which I haven't seen but it is a reasonable assumption - most of the cast are doubling as Red Herrings (it's the one about the inventor working on vital war work as several Nazi 'agents' prepare to kidnap him) and now we know where James Bond acquired his taste for excruciating puns as Leslie Banks remarks - after seeing off two villains by unleashing, with the help of Cole, a huge millstone, which crushes them 'killed two birds with one stone'. On the whole it's fairly harmless though I doubt anyone will be dashing out to buy the DVD should one exist.
  • Again, Alastair Sim manages to impose himself on the cast of this superior British espionage yarn and turn it into something surprisingly enjoyable. It's a tale set in a tiny wartime Scottish hospital were a Nazi spy ring are trying to get the secrets of local scientist Leslie Banks' innovative new bomb sight. Soon, though, we discover that the authorities are aware of the goings-on and have planted a counter-agent - we just don't now who is who! There are plenty of decent performances from Sim; John Mills as recuperating RAF officer "Perry"; Michael Wilding; an on-form Catherine Lacey as "Mrs. Stokes" and a cheeky, engaging contribution from a 16 year old George Cole and the intrigue lasts pretty much throughout the ninety minutes. The ending is a little disappointing, but overall it's a film that ought to get out more...
  • The shady world of war-time espionage infiltrates the thatched cottages and leafy lanes of rural Britain in this enjoyable but unremarkable comedy-thriller from Anthony Asquith. Alastair Sim leads an eclectic cast that includes Leslie Banks as an eccentric inventor, Michael Wilding as his assistant, and John Mills as a dashing airman, all of whom converge on the titular cottage. A 15-year-old George (Arfur Daley) Cole drops his aitches in his screen debut as a Cockney evacuee, and Wally Patch also makes an appearance - as he seems to have done in every British film made between 1933 and 1948.
  • Easy to watch little movie that kept me engaged throughout.

    While it wasn't amazing, I still enjoyed it. George Cole stole the show as Ron, among acting heavyweights such as Alastair Sim and John Mills.

    The Scotland setting and the nods to Sherlock Holmes were great. The mystery and suspense kept me guessing as to the outcomes and who was the spy.

    It lost its way a little towards the end though, and had what felt like a few dead ends with side stories. Despite its weaknesses, it was still an okay little black and white film to watch on a rainy afternoon.

    Always interesting to watch WWII movies that were released during the war, prior to the outcome being known.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    COTTAGE TO LET is an interesting albeit small scale little mystery released as a propaganda picture during WW2. A really nice cast helps to make it a fun watch, while there are a handful of twists and turns and interesting character work to keep the viewer's interest. Cast-wise, you get a youthful John Mills as a dashing downed pilot, and a delightfully odd Alastair Sim as a mysterious character always lurking around the periphery of the narrative. Most fun of all is George Cole as a kid, playing in his debut feature, and he's the life and soul of the party. The middle section of the film is a little slow and too focused on the obligatory romantic guff, but things pick up for an ending which really wows.
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