London 1942 - A Picture of Wartime London

'A picture of London in 1942 showing a cheerful though bomb-scarred city. The streets are full of British and Allied servicemen. In the parks there are allotments; tomatoes grow on roof tops. The film shows Londoners in the Home Guard and Civil Defence. It ends with scenes of London after dark.' [1]

Date: 1943

Duration: 13:41

Director: Ken Annakin
Production Company: Greenpark, in association with Verity Films
Producer: Ralph Keene
Cinematographer *: A. T. Dinsdale, and John Havinden
Composer: David Moule Evans
Narration: Robert Speaight
Editor (Supervising): Peter Tanner
Sound Recording: Al Rhind
Musical Director: Muir Mathieson
Music Played by: London Symphony Orchestra

Length: 35mm: 1293ft. 16mm: 517ft.


*The end credits of this film do not name the cinematographers. The source of listed information is lost, but suspected to come from the National Archive File: TNA BW 4-38 - 'London 1942'.

A uncredited young Bill Owen, most famous known for his portrayal of the character 'Compo' in The Last of the Summer Wine, can be seen around the 9-minute mark performing a cabaret act that he toured music halls with in order to pay for acting classes. This is the second-oldest known footage of him, following a Ministry of Information short. After the war, he would go on to find roles in feature films.

Still from 'London 1942' - Taken from 'Films of Britain 1946'
Chronicling London during the midst of World War II, the film illustrates an essential re-structuring of British society in response to the pressures inflicted upon it.

As much loved landmarks were destroyed and uncertainty engulfed the capital, rather than losing spirit Britain pulled tighter together, turning urban basements into inner-city pig farms to ease the problems of food shortage, and transforming disused roof-top spaces into allotments for growing vegetables and flowers. All notions of class related entertainment and social etiquettes were usurped, instead favouring a communal lifting of mood achieved through innovative community schemes including bringing theatre shows into factory canteens and standardizing food prices in the eateries around the city. As the film claims, even the ordinary citizen was willing to do their bit in order to secure a world ‘free from want and fear’.

London 1942

Certificate: U
Distributors: M.G.M.
Producers: Verity
1282ft / 14mins
A survey of London after three years of war. Produced for the British Council. [2]
  1. ^ Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1946
  2. ^ Index to Vol.10 / No.s 109-120 / 1943-44
    New Short Films Issued between August 21 and September 20 [1943]
    105 London 1942
    Monthly Film Bulletin of the BFI