Published on March 22nd, 2013 | by Chris0
Cottage To Let (aka Bombsight Stolen, 1941)
Alright. I'm not even sure how to explain this movie. So this review will be shorter and probably more confusing than most. I'm hesitant to call Cottage to Let a "War movie," for obvious reasons, but the subject matter and subconscious message just can't be construed as anything else. It's unfortunate that it had to be so twisted a web.... Here goes. (add. This movie also goes by "Bombsight Stolen", which is an even more clumsy and unfortunate title!!)
On the same day in sunny Scotland in 1941, a country cottage being "let" (or for us Yanks, available to rent) by the daft and disorganized Mrs. Barrington (Jeanne De Casalis) is besieged on three sides at once, first by a young boy evacuated from London, Ronald (George Cole). Ronald is a bit of a handful, and is a quite inquisitive young chap, which will come in handy later. Then there is Mr. Dimble (Alastair Sim) who'd arranged well in advance to stay here, and the downed RAF pilot, Lt. Perry (John Mills).
The cottage is on the estate of esteemed inventor and arms mogul, John Barrington (Leslie Banks), who is near to delivering a new high tech bombsight to the British Air Command. Ronald winds up staying in the house instead, where he somewhat befriends the butler, Evans (Wally Patch).... Also present is the fetching Helen Barrington (Carla Lehmann) who takes a liking to Perry, much to the dismay of Mr. Barrington's assistant, Trently (Michael Wilding)....
Paring it all down. Nobody (well the adults anyway) are really who they seem to be. Besides the Barringtons of course. A game of cat and mouse and clue breaks out. Hints are dropped and people start working in the shadows. Seems there are Nazi spies afoot, who would have this new bombsight captured or not delivered at all. Between Perry, Dimble, Trently, Evans, and the cook, Mrs. Trimm (Muriel George) you're never quite sure who the real devil is. Director Asquith actually manages to pull off an excellent mystery that even I could completely decipher until the eventual reveal. Sure you'll have your hunches, but there are just enough pieces of the puzzle thrown around to make you doubt yourself several times.
Between the mystery and intrigue, is the comedic element that the absent minded Mrs. Barrington and the cocky young Ronald provide. While probably "corny and lame" by today's standards, its all in good fun. Just put the modern "edge" away and run with it.
I think its also useful to look back on this and compare it to similar bits of anti-Nazi propaganda. This movie never really goes really "dark" with its accusations and inference, but still manages to say to the English people "you never know who it might be..." Yet, it never really comes out and says "Trust Nobody!" like the American version might (and probably still would today.)
Who is it? How does it end? I'm not going to spoil it for you! Come on! You're going to have to watch Cottage to Let (or Bombsight Stolen) for yourself. It gets a 3.5/5, just because it is such a quaint little classic gem I can't bear to go lower.
(Hey look! Just sit back and enjoy!)
Cottage to Let
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(1941) Leslie Banks, Alastair Sim, John Mills, Carla Lehmann, Jeanne De Casalis. Inside a wartime cottage in Scotland is a no-nonsense scientist who is developing a new bombsight for the British military...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Manufacturer: Sinister Cinema
Original Release Date:
Summary: A charming yet complicated quaint little wartime mystery.