- Title: THE NEXT OF KIN [Main Title]
- Film Number: ADM 131
- Other titles:
- Summary: A feature film whose original intention was to demonstrate the perils of careless talk tells the dramatic story of how German spies learn about a secret British attack on a U-Boat base in France, with nearly disastrous results for the mission.
- Description: 00:00:10 This film opens with the caption "Security: This is the story of how YOU unwittingly worked for the Enemy. YOU without knowing gave him the facts. YOU - in all innocence - helped to write these tragic words 'The Next of Kin'" followed by the production credits. 00:01:23 The drama begins in a Catholic church in the fictitious Breton port of Norville where a young couple, both members of the French Resistance, have arranged a clandestine meeting. The man learns from the woman that the Germans are going to establish a U-Boat base in Norville but they have neglected to protect it with anything more substantial than an infantry battalion. Warned by the church priest that there is a German soldier nearby, the male resistant makes his exit. 00:03:13 A German torpedo slices through the water and a British merchant ship receives two devastating torpedo hits. In London, a newspaper seller chalks on his billboard 'U Boat Menace Quarterly Shipping Losses up by 50%'. In an office somewhere in Whitehall, a Royal Navy staff captain and an army Colonel meet a Free French liaison officer. He informs them that the Germans have turned Norville into a U-Boat base but that it is poorly defended. The two staff officers agree that, in order to reduce U-Boat sinkings, a raid on the port is necessary. They discuss how it should be done - a dawn landing on the cliffs surrounding Norville, the demolitions of all its storage and dock facilities and a withdrawal of the attacking force at nightfall - and the troops which should carry it out, the 95th Brigade. The brigade will undergo intensive training at Watercombe before embarking at Westport for the raid. The attacking force will join a convoy heading for Africa to throw the enemy off the scent before detaching itself from the rest of the convoy and heading for France. To ensure absolute secrecy for the forthcoming raid, they both agree that a security officer is needed and summon by telephone Major Richards (Reginald Tate), to their office. 00:06:02 The two staff officers brief Richards - "We're planning a raid. We don't want it to be a suicide squad". On his way to 95th Brigade headquarters in his utility car, Richards stops to ask a Lance Corporal for directions. Without bothering to ask for his identity card, he tells the Major to follow the Brigadier's Humber staff car that has just overtaken them. Richards remarks to his driver, "Nice friendly people - tell you anything you want to know. I've always thought if I wanted a nice cushy job I'd come to England as a German spy!". When he arrives at Brigade Headquarters, he reprimands the sentry on duty for failing to ask him for proof of identity. 00:07:38 (Reel 2) Richards reports to the Brigade Major (Jack Hawkins) and the Brigade Intelligence Officer (David Hutcheson). Brigadier Blunt (Brefni O'Rourke) arrives with a young staff officer, Tommy Cummings (Philip Friend). After their introductions, Blunt and Richards discuss the very latest lapse of security, a letter from a wine merchants soliciting business when the headquarters makes its next move, information that should have remained a secret. The Brigadier, worried that his command is getting stale, is looking forward to the raid. 00:10:07 Glamorous exotic dancer Miss Clare (Phyllis Stanley) performs a striptease act in a theatre full of soldiers from the 95th Brigade, with the junior ranks in the gallery and the officers in the front row. At the end of her act, Lieutenant Cummings leaves his seat and heads backstage. In her dressing room, Miss Clare discovers she has run out of whisky and sends her make-up lady and dresser, 'Ma' Webster (Mary Clare) off to get some. In a nearby pub packed with soldiers, the older woman learns that they are all going overseas. In the meantime, Tommy Cummings has sneaked into Miss Clare's dressing room. She coaxes her lover to tell her where he and the rest of the brigade are being sent. After 'Ma' Webster returns with the whisky, the two women joke that they are both German spies as they send the young Lieutenant on his way. 00:15:03 Once they are alone, the two women, who are in fact German spies, discuss what information about troop movements they have just learned. However Miss Clare is unhappy over her treachery and wants to quit. 'Ma' Webster reminds her that she is the only person who can supply her with the cocaine to which she has become addicted and, like her, she won't be able to shake it off. Miss Clare relents and tells her about the 95th Brigade's imminent transfer to Watercombe and her plans to meet Tommy in Westport. 00:16:18 Brigadier Blunt gives men serving with his headquarters a pep talk about the need for absolute security and warns them that the accidental betrayal of information, even of seemingly insignificant details, are all the enemy needs to make sense of everything his spies get to hear about - "Say nothing - even if saying nothing means you look a fool". Tommy Cummings' facial expression shows his own unease that he might have given away too much secret information to his girlfriend. The scene ends with a close-up of a poster that urges its readers "Keep it under your hat". In an office in Berlin dominated by a large portrait of Adolf Hitler, the monocle-wearing head of German military intelligence (Torin Thatcher) holds a conference of his departmental heads and, after commenting on their reports, reminds them "What I want are new facts. No matter how small. From small facts there often spring big ideas!" 00:17:59 (Reel 3) A junior member of German military intelligence tells his superior that reports have come with information that 95th Brigade is training in Watercombe before being sent overseas and gives background information about the brigade and its commander. "A new fact - it may mean nothing", the German intelligence chief comments, but he orders the despatch of two new agents to spy on the 95th Brigade. Agent No. 23 alias Davis (Mervyn Johns) is issued with fake British papers by his desk officer and told to report to another German agent with the alias of Barratt in Westport once he has been put ashore from a U-Boat. Agent No. 16 (John Chandos) receives a similar briefing before he is dropped by parachute into England. 00:20:05?? The next scene is in a crowded buffet bar on board a train full of soldiers from 95th Brigade en route to Watercombe. They chatter away about their next posting without any regard to security - "Talk about broadcasting - they ought to be on the wireless", a soldier grumbles. Propping up the bar and eavesdropping on all the conversations is Agent No. 16 disguised as a private soldier with the 10th Chilterns. His attempts to elicit more information from his fellow-drinkers arouses the suspicions of an 'old sweat', a genuine member of the 10th Chilterns. After asking the spy a few questions about their unit, the genuine soldier goes off to report him to two officers travelling on the same train. Aware from the newspaper reports that mysterious parachutists have been spotted, the most senior officer in the railway compartment orders him to bring Agent No. 16 to him. The two men duly make their appearance and the officer proceeds to quiz the suspect. Unsatisfied by the answers he gets, he orders Agent No. 16 to remove his battledress blouse, shirt and vest. Just as he is about to remove the last item of clothing, the German spy tries to escape but he is overpowered. When his vest is pulled off, the British soldiers find marks made by parachute harnesses on his skin, proof that he is indeed a German spy. . 00:25:49 (Reel 4) A U-Boat surfaces off the coast of England with Agent No. 20 alias Mr Davis on board. Once ashore, he gets a lift to Westport from a passing RAF officer who jokes, "You should have checked up on me. I could be a German spy!" Agent No. 20 makes his way through Westport's bombed-out streets to Barratt's Book Shop, where he introduces himself to the shop assistant Beppie Leeman (Nova Pilbeam), a Dutch refugee. He tells her that he has a book her boss may wish to buy. Beppie takes the book to Mr Barratt (Stephen Murray) who is in his office. He examines the book closely and finds in one of the pages a cypher that tells him the identity of the agent who has just arrived. He steps out of his office and finds Mr Davis reading a book that he has just picked up with the title 'I Am a Nazi Spy'. "Yes, this is a most interesting book, Sir. I have a client who might wish to buy it. Will you come inside?" With this coded introduction, Barratt gets down to business with Agent No. 23, explaining in passing that his Dutch shop assistant is perfect cover for his activities and slyly mentions the pressure he could bring to bear on her if he got her parents in Rotterdam arrested by the Gestapo. He orders Davis to stay at The White Hart Hotel in Watercombe and arranges a method of communicating with him if there is any trouble. His cover story is that he is Mr Davis, a businessman and a bachelor who has been bombed out of his home in Cardiff. While Barratt and Davies talk, Beppie's soldier boyfriend makes a surprise return after missing his train; Their embrace shocks an elderly women reading 'Gone with the Wind'. She scuttles out of the shop and nearly takes the book with her. Before he leaves, the boyfriend tells Beppie that his new posting is in Watercombe just a short distance away. 00:32:43 A column of three-ton Commer lorries and Morris 15-cwt trucks with men from 95th Brigade on board rumbles through the narrow streets of Watercombe past Agent No. 23, alias Mr Davis, standing at the entrance of the White Hart Hotel. He learns from Mrs Taylor, the hotel manageress, that she is not expecting much business from the new arrivals. On board one of the passing lorries, one soldier quips, "Boys, we are passing the oldest public house in Britain". "Why?" comes the quick reply. Over a sequence consisting of sections from Part One orders with the training schedule mixed through with shots showing soldiers armed with SMLE Mk III rifles and an M1928 Thompson sub-machine gun scaling a rocky cliff face and disembarking from Higgins boats. 00:34:43 Agent No. 23 is walking along a clifftop spying on the troops rehearsing their beach landings when he is challenged by Brigadier Blunt and Major Richards and is forced to leave the scene. At this point, anti-aircraft guns open fire on an enemy aircraft flying overhead. 00:35:04 (Reel 5) Blunt and Richards comment on the apparent coincidence behind this latest enemy move. Meanwhile, Beppie's army boyfriend writes a letter to her and surreptitiously puts it in the post in defiance of standing orders. At the bookstore, Mr Barratt collects the mail, notices the letter and reads it. It tells him Beppie's boyfriend is with the rest of his unit in Watercombe. Afterwards he apologises to Beppie for opening her letter by mistake, offers her some words of comfort over the lack of news from her parents in Rotterdam and reminds her that she will be able to see her boyfriend again soon. Barratt also reads a coded letter from Agent No. 23 and, with two separate strands of information to hand concerning 95th Brigade, he send a message to Berlin over his portable radio transmitter/receiver. 00:38:15 The head of German military intelligence reads a report based on Barrat's signal and deduces from it that a cliff landing is being planned by the British. "This is good as far as it goes but we must have more detail!" After being informed by his aide that nothing has been heard from Agent No. 16, the general devises an alternative plan of action for Agent No. 23 and the two female spies at Watercombe. 00:38:49 Major Richards gives the men of 95th Brigade headquarters a security briefing. He informs them that the enemy appears to be interested in them and asks them to prevent the enemy finding out any more. He describes the existence of an elaborate enemy espionage network in the country consisting of highly-trained agents and traitors and urges the troops to keep a sharp watch on these people at all times. He mentions that the British have efficient counter-espionage organisations but he reminds them, "they can do little without your help... you are the real security men". Afterwards, Richards receive reports about the latest security lapses and information about a man staying at the White Hart Hotel asking a lot of questions. He goes to the hotel to see for himself and, with the help of Mrs Taylor the hotel manageress, is able to identify Agent No. 23 alias Mr Davis sitting in the bar reading a newspaper. Richards also spots Tommy Cummings drinking in the bar with Miss Clare. He summons the junior officer to one side and gives him a severe reprimand for this flagrant breach of security. He then goes into Mrs Taylor's office and telephones Westport Special Branch. ??:??:?? Two Special Branch officers search Miss Clare's dressing room, with 'Ma' Webster present. They search large boxes with costumes and props inside - "a lot of luggage for a striptease artist, hasn't she?", one of them remarks. One of them finds a box 'Ma' Webster has tried to conceal and asks her to unlock it and remove two small suitcases from it. Inside one of them, they find a portable radio transmitter/receiver. 'Ma' Webster expresses fake surprise and indignation over Miss Clare's treachery. 00:44:34 Back in The White Hart's bar, Major Richards is gently quizzing 'Mr Davis' but is then called away to take a telephone call in the manageresses' office. 00:45:07 (Reel 6) Major Richards is told over the telephone about the Special Branch raid on Miss Clare's dressing room. In the bar, Miss Clare and Tommy Cummings spots Richards in the hotel lobby with a uniformed police officer. She is then asked by the hotel doorman to report to Mrs Taylor's office, a conversation which is overheard by 'Mr Davis' sitting nearby reading 'Picture Post'. Both he and Tommy Cummings can hear Miss Clare speaking in a raised voice in the office on the far side of the lobby. Agent No. 23 slips into the hotel's payphone booth, decorated with a 'Careless Talk costs Lives' poster, and telephones Barratt. In a coded conversation, he tells him he's got to leave Watercombe in a hurry. After Miss Clare has been taken away under arrest for spying by a policeman, Major Richards informs Cummings that he won't be seeing her again. "She's an enemy agent alright. She'll be tried and hanged". 00:47:28 Soldiers stationed in Watercombe discuss the news of Miss Clare's arrest - "Fancy her being a German spy. Blimey, you wouldn't think a girl like that could hide anything!" At 95th Brigade headquarters, a police sergeant reports to Major Richards that 'Mr Davis' has gone, apparently upset by the arrest of Miss Clare. Brigadier Blunt asks Richards what this is all about. He tells him that the missing man is a suspicious character. "You're a fly-paper for spies!", exclaims the Intelligence Officer. However, Richards informs the Brigadier that everything is quiet for the time being. 00:48:21 Meanwhile, Barratt has rescued Agent No. 23 and is driving him in his car to a new location. 'Mr Davis' is angry that he knew nothing about Miss Clare's operation; Barratt replies by accusing him of cowardice for running away from Watercombe and orders him to replace the missing Agent No. 16 in a mission he was unable to fulfil - gaining access to the Ordnance Depot. At the depot's main entrance, 'Mr Davis' joins a line of labourers signing up for employment; although he doesn't look like an unskilled worker, he is given the job of hod carrier. At lunchbreak with his builder workmates, he asks whether there have been any accidents at the depot - "Not yet," comes the reply, "but they will have with all these women driving about." Army vehicles with women drivers are seen being driven through the depot. 00:49:53 One of these vehicles, a utility car, has a puncture. Noticing this, 'Mr Davis' walks across to give its Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) driver, played by Thora Hird, a hand in replacing it. After initial hesitation, she accepts his help and they start a conversation. She's intrigued by his posh accent, which he explains away by telling her his cover story. Having taken a liking to him, she offers him a cigarette, casually gives away the location of the explosives store in the depot and invites him to an ATS dance being held that night. 00:52:28 In his best jacket, shirt and tie, Agent No. 23 arrives at the crowded ATS dance and is spotted by the ATS driver, who is dancing with an Ordnance Corps Sergeant called Ramsbotham. Over a pint she has bought them from the bar, the enemy agent and the British sergeant strike up a conversation. Ramsbotham tells him about the pressures of his job at the Ordnance Depot and informs him about the demands made by 95th Brigade for rush deliveries of equipment. He then disappears to have a dance with another ATS woman, allowing Agent No. 23 to slip away unnoticed through a door covered with a big poster "Telling a friend may mean telling the enemy". Reel 7...
- Access Conditions: IWM
- Featured Period:
- Production Date: 1942
- Production Country: GB
- Production Details: Directorate of Army Kinematography (Production sponsor) Ealing Studios (Production company) Balcon, Michael Elias (Production individual) Dickinson, Thorold Barron (Production individual) Balcon, Michael Elias (Production individual) Balcon, S C (Production individual) Bartlett, Basil (Production individual) Dickinson, Thorold Barron (Production individual) Dighton, John (Production individual) Macphail, Angus (Production individual) Palmer, Ernest (Production individual) Walton, William (Production individual) Irving, Ernest (Production individual) Daines, Norman (Production individual) Williams, EricMC (Production individual) Pitt, Ray (Production individual) Russell, Billy (Production individual) Morahan, Tom (Production individual) Dixon, Cecil (Production individual) Bartlett, Basil (Production individual) Day, G H (Production individual) Boalch, W R (Production individual) Maas, G (Production cast) Sydney, B (Production cast) Leister, F (Production cast) Tate, R (Squadron Leader) (Production cast) Schofield, Jdaughter of F D Rowland (Production cast) Field, A (Production cast) Hawkins, Jack1910-09-141973-07-18 (Production cast) Hutcheson, D (Production cast) O'Rorke, B (Production cast) Stanley, Phyllis (Production cast) Norris, R (2nd Lieutenant) (Production cast) Hibbert, G (Production cast) Friend, P (Production cast) Clare, Mary1892-07-171970-08-29British actress who performed in films, on the stage and later on television. Mary Clare married Lionel Percival Mawhood and they had 2 children. (Production cast) Thatcher, Torin (Lieutenant) (Production cast) Johns, Mervyn1899-02-181992-09-06 (Production cast) Chandos, John (Production cast) Pilbeam, Nova (Production cast) Murray, Stephen (Production cast) Hird, Thora (Production cast) Allenby, Frank (Production cast) Ambler, Joss19001959 (Production cast) Victor, C (Production cast) Wayne, Naunton (Production cast) Radford, Basil (Production cast) Worcester Regiment, Officers and men of (Production cast) Navy, Army and Air Force (Production cast) De Greff, Peter (Production cast) Hagan, Pat (Production cast) Storme, Sandra (Production cast) Reynolds, Owen (Production cast)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations: British Army, Worcestershire Regiment (regiment/service)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Sound Soundtrack language: English Title language: English Subtitle language: None
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 10 Footage: 8955 ft; Running time: 99 mins
- Notes: Summary: The Next of Kin (d. Thorold Dickinson, 1942) was one of a number of wartime features - including The Foreman Went to France (d. Charles Frend, 1942), released, also by Ealing, the previous month - to warn of the dangers of careless talk. Originally commissioned as a military training film by the War Office, the film was expanded to feature length for general release at the behest of Ealing head Michael Balcon, who supplemented its modest budget of £20,000 with a further £50,000 from Ealing's coffers. Despite the film's box office success, however, the studio recouped its investment but no more; under the terms of the deal, all profits went to the War Office.The raid, shown in graphic detail, was staged on the Cornish fishing village of Mevagissey, standing in for France. Fact overtook fiction, and before the film could be released the disastrous raid on Dieppe took place, which claimed the lives of thousands of troops. Once again Churchill tried to stop a film from being shown, this time on the grounds that it would cause great distress to the next-of-kin of those lost at Dieppe. But as with Ships with Wings he allowed a military opinion to override his own. In the Press it was known as the 'hush-hush' film because it had been shot in secrecy, the details of its story kept under wraps. The news that there was a chance that the public would not be permitted to see it caused a small storm in a teacup. The controversy had undoubtedly helped the film's chances, and it made a very handsome profit. But Ealing's deal with the government meant that their return was limited to their investment, plus a very small percentage, the rest going into the coffers of the treasury. Location: scenes of the raid filmed around Mevagissey in Cornwall. A visitor to the IWMFVA in 1997 specifically identified Colona Beach and Chapel Point (about 2 kms south of Mevagissey) as the beach used for the landing. Technical: the V4 copy is the video release by DD Video.
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