Comedian Tommy Trinder plays it straight in this tribute to the wartime AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service). The dedicated band who kept the fires of London under control during the blitz and fire... See full summary »
| Those unsung heroes in the London Fire Department
Until 9/11 happened this was a story that could never be an American story. The Bells Go Down is the story of an auxiliary fire fighter unit in London's East End and stars British music hall comedian Tommy Trinder as one of the volunteers.
As the United Kingdom was under attack I'm sure one of the few exemptions in the British Armed Services was being a firefighter. The regular London Fire Department was working 24/7 as soon as the Battle of Britain started and they needed all the help they could get. Hence these Auxiliary Fire Units headed and trained by Finlay Currie and James Mason whom I was surprised to see in a supporting role as his career was on the ascent at this time.
Mason himself said that this was his one and only appearance in an Ealing Studio film and one which he was proud to make as he admired the comedies that studio turned out post war, especially those with Alec Guinness.
Trinder whose work I was unfamiliar with until seeing this is a bit of a lunkhead when he starts but certainly proves to have the right stuff. In many ways this film is similar to the wartime British movie The Way Ahead where some rather unmilitary type civilians trained by David Niven and William Hartnell into fighting British troops.
Hartnell is in this film too, but not as a trainer. He has a very nice part as a veteran of the International Brigade who has experienced the Spanish Civil War and saw the air raids on Madrid. He steadies the group from the inside with his knowledge of how serious this work is.
And this film is yet another salute to the people of Great Britain who pulled together in their finest hour. More than Trinder, the whole lot of them had the right stuff.