Seven Days to Noon

Seven Days to Noon is a 1950 British drama/thriller film directed by John and Roy Boulting. Based on the book, Un Nazi en Manhattan, written by Fernando Josseau, Paul Dehn and James Bernard won the Academy Award for Best Story for this film.

Seven Days to Noon
Seven daysPoster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Boulting
Produced byRoy Boulting
Written byJames Bernard
Roy Boulting
Paul Dehn
Frank Harvey
StarringBarry Jones
Music byJohn Addison (composing debut)
CinematographyGilbert Taylor
Edited byRoy Boulting
Distributed byBritish Lion Films (UK)
Maylus Pictures (USA)
Release date
  • 10 October 1950 (1950-10-10) (UK)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


In the early 1950s, the British Prime Minister (Ronald Adam) is sent a letter by Professor Willingdon (Barry Jones), who works at Britain's atomic weapons development facility, the (fictitious) Wallingford Research Centre, from which he has surreptitiously taken a nuclear warhead. It is a very explicit threat that Willingdon will destroy the centre of London in a week's time, at noon (hence the film title), unless the British government declares that it is to stop all stockpiling of nuclear warheads. Detective Superintendent Folland (André Morell) of Scotland Yard's Special Branch is charged with tracking down Willingdon and stopping him.

Arriving at the Wallingford Research Centre (based on the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment {AWRE} at Aldermaston), Folland's team find Willingdon missing, along with a nuclear bomb. Willingdon's assistant Lane (Hugh Cross) is recruited to help and they return to London to search for him.

Willingdon, carrying his bomb in a Gladstone bag, finds lodgings with Mrs Peckitt (Joan Hickson), but spooks her with his constant pacing around his room during the night. The following morning, he leaves early and, seeing a 'wanted' poster with his face, disguises himself with a new coat and having his moustache shaved off.

Folland's team plan for the worst and get Cabinet approval to evacuate London. Rumours begin to fly that another war is about to be declared, and the Prime Minister agrees to do a radio broadcast to try to quash these, and appeal to Willingdon to give himself up.

The next day, Willingdon's daughter Ann (Sheila Manahan) turns up at Folland's office to demand some answers. Folland tells her all, and asks her to stay and help – she may be the only person the professor will listen to.

Mrs Peckitt reports Willingdon to the police, thinking that he is a 'landlady murderer' reported in the paper, but a quick-thinking constable realises the description better matches Willingdon and a car is sent to check him.

Unfortunately, Willingdon spots it on his way back to his lodgings and makes a quiet getaway. Driving back to their hotel from the police operations centre, Lane and Ann Willingdon spot the professor but fail to catch him. An updated description is quickly circulated.

That evening Willingdon bumps into 'Mrs' "Goldie" Phillips (Olive Sloane); she invites him to buy her a drink, the two of them having met, by chance, earlier at a pawnbroker's. As he has no lodgings, Goldie offers him her "spare" bed for the night. By this time, London is being evacuated and Willingdon decides to lie low. The troops have begun to search and Goldie's bedsit seems a good place to remain hidden. Willingdon is forced to hold Goldie hostage, fearing that if he doesn't, she will inform the authorities of his location.

The streets cleared, Willingdon makes his escape and finds his final refuge, a bomb blitzed church. The net steadily closes and Willingdon is finally found, praying. Lane, Ann and Folland arrive to try to talk the professor away from his bag. He panics, runs from the church, and is killed by an even more panicking soldier (Victor Maddern). With seconds to spare, Lane has the bomb defused.[1]

Main castEdit


The film was based on a story by journalist Paul Dehn and musician James Benard, neither of whom were a screenwriter at the time.[2] Roy Boulting produced while John directed and Roy edited.[3]

The brothers described the story as "Guy Fawkes in modern dress" and deliberately did not cast any stars in the leads as they felt the story would be more believable that way.[4]

Filming started in July 1949, Location filming took place in London over several weeks including at Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Grove and Trafalgar Train Station. Traffic on the bridge was controlled by walkie talkies. Gilbert Taylor was influenced by the photography of The Naked City.[5][6]

During filming John Boulting said ""We don't want any stars. They would be a positive hindrance. Those old familiar faces, and old familiar tricks and gestures, would entirely destroy the illusion we have created. Only my brother and I know the full story of Seven Days to Noon. Even our players haven't seen the entire script. We're keeping it secret until it's ready for sale."[7]

The film was made with the co operation of the war office and the police.[8]

Reception and awardsEdit

Box officeEdit

The film performed reasonably well at the box office.[9][10] It was one of a string of financially successful films from Korda following a series of flops - other hits included State Secret, The Happiest Days of Your Life and Odette.[11]


The film received an Academy Award (Oscar) for 'Writing (Motion Picture Story)' at the 24th Academy Awards held in 1952 at the RKO Pantages Theatre.[12]


André Morell's character Superintendent Folland was revived for Roy Boulting's film High Treason.

DVD releaseEdit

Seven Days to Noon became available on DVD in 2008.

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "Novelette Complete With This Issue Of The Sunday Herald... SEVEN DAYS TO NOON". The Sunday Herald (Sydney). New South Wales, Australia. 5 November 1950. p. 1 (Sunday Herald Novel). Retrieved 9 April 2020 – via Trove.
  2. ^ LONDON NOTEBOOK: TENOR By STEPHEN WATTS. New York Times 24 Sep 1950: X5.
  3. ^ TWO OF A KIND FROM ENGLAND: Or an Introduction to the Identical Boulting Twins, John and Roy, Who Now Loom Large in the World of Movies Pause for TV Change Interruption Approach By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times 17 Dec 1950: X5.
  4. ^ "New Actors Get Chance". Truth. New South Wales, Australia. 17 July 1949. p. 28. Retrieved 9 April 2020 – via Trove.
  5. ^ FILM IN THE MAKING: "Seven Days to Noon" Enley, Frank. Sight and Sound; London Vol. 18, Iss. 72, (Jan 1, 1950): 13.
  6. ^ "Margaret Aylward's BRITISH FILMS". The Sun. New South Wales, Australia. 28 August 1949. p. 38. Retrieved 9 April 2020 – via Trove.
  7. ^ "Even the actors don't know the full story". The Daily Telegraph. New South Wales, Australia. 2 October 1949. p. 46. Retrieved 9 April 2020 – via Trove.
  8. ^ "Atom-bomb film stir". The Daily Telegraph. New South Wales, Australia. 17 September 1950. p. 58. Retrieved 9 April 2020 – via Trove.
  9. ^ Murphy, Robert (2005) [1992]. Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48. London & New York: Routledge. p. 212.
  10. ^ "Six British films get top box-office rating". The Daily Telegraph. New South Wales, Australia. 10 December 1950. p. 62. Retrieved 9 April 2020 – via Trove.
  11. ^ LONDON STATUS QUO: Production Remains Subject of Optimism And Gloom--Korda Hits and Misses Korda Active Cooperation Coming Up Documentary Approach. By STEPHEN WATTS. New York Times ]22 Oct 1950: X5.
  12. ^ "WRITING (MOTION PICTURE STORY)". THE 24TH ACADEMY AWARDS – 1952. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 20 March 1952. Retrieved 21 October 2014.


  • The Great British Films, pp 144–146, Jerry Vermilye, 1978, Citadel Press, ISBN 0-8065-0661-X

External linksEdit