Thespionage

SCHOOL FOR DANGER , AKA NOW IT CAN BE TOLD, is a true-life espionage tale in which the real spies and their spymasters play themselves. Filmed in 1945 when memories were still fresh and the relevant bods hadn’t yet been de-mobbed. Kind of like the bigger, crazier Arnhem movie, THEIRS ISTHE GLORY. A cockeyed “realism” where the actors deliver their lines in the best nativity play manner, through their cut-glass accents, but you know they are speaking life-or-death words they spoke for real a thousand times…

“There was a theme song for our course… we used to make up unprintable words to it… in French, of course.”

“Morse, Morse and more Morse. I dreamt in Morse. I even started knitting in Morse.”

“Now the organisation’s clothing department took us in hand.”

Amazing variations on the standard posh English accent, including the officer pronouncing “house” as “hyce.” Was everybody in British espionage super-posh? I bet they were. It’s fantastic that the director’s name is Teddy Baird.

“Felix, here are your lethal tablets.” “Oh, thanks very much.”

It’s all so QUAINT, hard to get your head around the real, horrible dangers these people faced: as spies, they could be legally executed (as the Nazis interpreted international law), but horrific torture would come first. And yet here we are, the guns are still warm, and it’s already rather jolly-hockey-sticks, Boys’ Own Adventure stuff. The war is cosy.

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