What the Critics Say About WENT THE DAY WELL
"FILM OF THE WEEK! #1 CRITICS' PICK! THE CHANCE TO SEE THIS RARITY IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO INDULGE IN THE SORT OF CINEMATIC ECSTASY THAT MAKES US OBSESSED WITH MOVIES IN THE FIRST PLACE! The smooth switch-up from typical Ealing satire to a tense WWII thriller is nothing short of a narrative coup. Home-front propaganda has rarely seemed so cutthroat or so cunning."
"UNDESERVEDLY FORGOTTEN! Cavalcanti handles the story with crisp, vigorous wit. Went the Day Well? contemplates some pretty grim stuff, but with equipoise, discipline and a sense of humor that embody exactly the virtues it sets out to defend.
"A POTENT THRILLER! Think of Britain's Ealing Studios and sophisticated, gently mordant comedies such as Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Lavender Hill Mob will likely come to mind. But Alberto Cavalcanti's recently rediscovered and rereleased World War II propaganda film is a different beast entirely... that's since been compared to Peckinpah's explosively violent Straw Dogs and Wolf Rilla's horror film Village of the Damned."
“REMARKABLE! Begins as a precursor to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and escalates into all-out action as the unlikely villagers take up arms.”
"Might have been a model for the kind of thing Hitchcock made during his peak period, The Birds in particular. The Brazilian-born Cavalcanti… deploys baroque framing and tilted camera angles only sparingly, preferring instead to ratchet up the tension, paradoxically, but ingeniously, by applying a consistent style and rhythm across a developing narrative."
“THE BEST, MOST FEROCIOUS PICTURE OF THE WAR YEARS! THE WORK OF A TRUE AUTEUR.”
“Cavalcanti establishes, with loving care and the occasional wry wink, the ultimate bucolic English scene, then takes an almost sadistic delight in tearing it to bloody shreds in an orgy of shockingly blunt, matter-of-fact violence. Still truly unnerving, one can only imagine how terrifying it must have been for audiences facing the very real threat of Nazi enslavement.”
"Its influence shows up in Dad's Army, in Village of the Damned, and maybe even, with a twist, in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds... Thora Hird's performance as the stout-hearted land girl seeing off the Nazis is a joy, as is the infant Harry Fowler, playing the Just-William-ish lad who has a role to play in defending these islands. The dialogue about exotic animal recipes, when the besieged inhabitants of Paris in 1870 allegedly ate the occupants of the city zoo, is pure surrealist oxygen."
“One of the most remarkable slices of wartime propaganda ever filmed. Its very oddness is magnificent, as though Dad’s Army had suddenly morphed into a guerilla conflict of kill-or-be-killed.”
“Violence gains the upper hand in the second half of the movie, with a harshness that has no equivalent in British cinema of the period. Shots are fired in the back, the Germans who lob grenades at women and children are skewered on bayonets and finished off with blows of a gun butt.
“What distinguishes [it] is Cavalcanti’s cool, brutal depiction of suddenly erupting violence and death; not only are British ‘heroes’ often dispatched with shocking realism, but quiet, cozy housewives find themselves killing the enemy with almost hysterical relish.”
“A PROFOUND STUDY OF ENGLISHNESS AND A MASTERPIECE OF UNEASE! Went the Day Well? joins the askance, impolite, Romantic tradition that includes the work of Powell and Pressburger, Nicolas Roeg, Terence Davies, Derek Jarman and Ken Russell. It is based on a story by Graham Greene, but its inventiveness and non-conformism smell of its director, Alberto Cavalcanti—a filmmaker impatient with the real, in love with the sonic, poetic, rhythmic and discomforting.”
"ONE OF THE MOST CHILLING AND EFFECTIVE OF ALL BRITISH WARTIME FILMS. It is the clear-eyed realistic direction by that eternal outsider, Alberto Cavalcanti, who was always something of a cuckoo in the cozy Ealing nest, that is the chief reason why Went the Day Well? is so very different from the better known and so much more sweetly comforting and familiar Ealing films of the early post-war period."
“ENGAGING AND SURPRISINGLY AFFECTING. Cavalcanti’s design sense serves him well, and the beautifully lit scenes and crisp editing look like something MGM could have been proud of. William Walton contributes a brief but suitably grand score.”
“A RICH AND PROVOCATIVE FILM. Deserves to be celebrated more widely.”