War and Order
This fast-paced, no-nonsense review of the work of the police force during hostilities was one of the last films produced by the celebrated General Post Office Film Unit.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Information, to which the GPO team would soon be relocated as the Crown Film Unit, the film outlines the huge increase in the police workload in wartime. Despite the force’s myriad extra responsibilities, there’s no sense of impending disaster: the good old British ‘bobby’ is prepared for any eventuality.
Alongside maintaining law and order – made more difficult by the imposition of the ‘blackout’ – the police were expected to work with civil defence workers during and after air raids, oversee sirens and handle reports of bombs and other emergency communications. This was co-ordinated through a network of direct-line police boxes as the 999 service came into being after the war and there were no hand-held radios.
Another responsibility was the monitoring of foreigners for signs of spies or fifth columnists, and the film shows an Italian shopkeeper arrested as an ‘enemy alien’. With many officers on active service, gaps were filled by special constables and police auxiliaries.
Such was their confidence in its message that Scotland Yard sent a copy of this film to the FBI for ‘instructional purposes’.
Cast & credits
- [Antonelli, bicycle applicant] Andrea Malandrinos