Hue and Cry (1947) starring Alastair Sim, Harry Fowler, Douglas Barr, Joan Dowling, Jack Warner, Valerie White, Jack Lambert directed by Charles Crichton Movie Review

Hue and Cry (1947)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Harry Fowler as Joe Kirby in Hue and Cry (1947)

A British Comic Book Caper

There are various things I could say about "Hue and Cry"; I could tell you that it is known as the first Ealing Comedy or that young actors Harry Fowler and Joan Dowling met on this movie leading to their marriage before Dowling sadly committed suicide a few years later. But the most important thing I can tell you is that it is a children's adventure movie the sort that if you watched in your youth be it when it was released or after probably holds some nostalgic charm. Unfortunately for those who didn't see "Hue and Cry" at a young age it is both solid and fun but also forgettable with maybe the exception of a supporting role from Alastair Sim as an eccentric pulp fiction writer.

As a teen Joe Kirby (Harry Fowler) is torn between acting grown up and getting a job and still reading comic books. It is through reading a comic book that he stumbles across a plot by a group of criminals who have the stories doctored before printing to pass on secret messages about robberies. His suspicions are backed up when he visits the reclusive and eccentric writer of the comics Felix H. Wilkinson (Alastair Sim - Green for Danger) as the quirky writer confirms his stories have been changed. But with no one willing to believe Joe it is up to him and his group of friends to try and track down the criminal master mind and capture him.

Joan Dowling as Clarry in Hue and Cry (1947)

In many ways having watched "Hue and Cry" I wish I had seen this as a young boy because whilst it also features the delightful Joan Dowling it is very much a boy's adventure/ thriller with a gang of kids of all ages unravelling a mystery and capturing the bad guy. And it is an imaginatively written little thriller from the fun idea of criminals using comic books to pass on plans to the twist when it comes to who the bad guys are. Plus it has lots of adventure from the boys trying to capture the bad guys in the act and then forced to escape from the police via a drainage tunnel to the simplest thing of trailing a woman. And all of this had a wonderful mix of humour from amusing characters such as the eccentric writer to a mouse being accidentally used to get a woman to squeal, quite literally.

The thing is that "Hue and Cry" is very much a movie made for children and watching it for the first time as an adult unfortunately lacks something. Having said that it is a wonderful portrait of post war Britain with not just only the bombed buildings making a wonderful backdrop but the characterisation of children left to their own means and having adventures in the ruins and drains.

As for the acting well the young cast do a nice job, Harry Fowler is likeable as Joe and Joan Dowling is feisty as the only female member of a boy's gang. But in truth if anything it is forgettable with Alastair Sim being the only performance which sticks in your mind thanks to it being another one of those quirky characters which Sim played better than anyone.

What this all boils down to is that "Hue and Cry" is an entertaining movie and interesting because of its portrait of post-war Britain. But I am sure that if you watched it as a child it also holds a nostalgic charm which is lacking for those who encounter it for the first time as an adult.