Green For Danger Review
"My presence lay over the hospital like a pall...I found it all tremendously enjoyable!" If, as is suggested by Green For Danger, there must have been much gallows humour during the Second World War, when life carried on under the sound of Doodlebugs and alongside bomb-damaged buildings. Hospital life, which is rather melodramatically presented here, was undoubtedly made much more difficult with the combination of victims of the Nazi bombing campaign, a shortage of equipment and the blackouts that were necessary to preserve the hospitals at a time when they were utterly necessary.
As presented on film, it could have been so very grim, and doubtless was, but with a wonderful central performance by Alastair Sim at his blackly comedic best, Green For Danger finds laughs within the horror of the situation. Granted these aren't always shared by the rest of the characters in the piece but Sim's playing of Inspector Cockrill of the Kent County Police is a joy, offering notes of sarcasm amongst the efforts of the medics at a military hospital. And it is there that Green For Danger sets up two murders, one of a patient under anaesthetic and the other of a nurse on the verge of admitting the identity of the killer. Over its first third, the film reveals the tensions within the operating theatre and wards with there being suspicions cast over Dr. Barney Barnes (Trevor Howard) from the very beginning. These are soon given voice by the head nurse at the hospital who is on the verge of admitting the identity of the murderer when she is also killed, possibly by those same hands. Cue the arrival of Alistair Sim and the beginning of his investigation.
Adapted from a novel by Christianna Brand, director Sidney Gilliat and writer Claude Guerney rewrite the story to toy with the notions of what one might expect from whodunit. Indeed, they appear to have a good deal of fun with the story, prodding the main characters into worry whilst Sim's hungry wolf circles them. As the doctors and nurses snipe and accuse one another, Sim doesn't so much blunder in as step slowly on a series of nerves that are particularly sensitive to his presence, each footfall weighted for maximum impact. However, in spite of this, Sim's Inspector Cockrill misses the most obvious of clues, allowing, for example, a conversation to blindly pass him by when it will be obvious to the audience that he has missed a vital clue. But such is his method, made even clearer when his guessing of the murderer in a whodunit that he's reading is revealed to be utterly wrong on his turning to the final page to check his thinking.
Clumsy he is not and nor is Green For Danger. Rather, it's an entertaining wartime comedy with a couple of murders thrown in to keep things moving along. As The Ghost Train used horror to offer a unique telling of a wartime story so Green For Danger uses a murder investigation to twist a wartime yarn into something new. New, that is, to a 1947 audience and whilst it might be much too hokey for a modern audience, there are enough laughs and thrills to please anyone who enjoys a murky post-war comedy of an afternoon.
With quite a bit of print damage noticeable throughout, Green For Danger doesn't look awfully impressive, even less so when it's as soft as it is here with the strength of the contrast making it difficult to pick out subtleties in the shadows. Of course, given how melodramatic it often is, made even more so by the less-than-delicate performances by some of the supporting cast, there is very little that's subtle about the film leaving this quite an apt transfer but regardless of that, this is a long way from being as good as it could be.
On top of that, there was a fault on this check disc that caused it to stop working a couple of minutes from the end of the film. As a whodunit, at least the guilty party was revealed but this fault may have been carried over onto the retail version so be careful. The DD2.0 mono soundtrack is fine but nondescript, offering what I assume is a fairly faithful representation of the original theatrical soundtrack without any flair. There is, however, some background noise that's obvious but in spite of the advances offered by DVD, one ought to expect a little noise in films of this era, particularly when they haven't been treated to the kind of care one might expect of a Warner Brothers or Fox.
There are no extras on this DVD release of Green For Danger.
As released by Network, Green For Danger will be sufficient for anyone who was waiting for it on DVD as well as to those who enjoys the rather obvious thrills of films from the post-war era.