Film Illustrated Monthly – Feb 1950

The Blue Lamp

In “The Blue Lamp” Ealing Studios, Britain’s most successful laugh-raising company, have turned out at last a film that does for the British police what Hollywood has done so well and so often for the American cop. Filmed with the full co-operation of Scotland Yard, the film tells, with pace and tension, the story of a young gangster (Dirk Bogarde) who shoots and kills an ordinary London on-the-beat policeman (Jack Warner) during a cinema box-office holdup, of the young crook’s girl-friend (Peggy Evans), his accomplice (Patric Doonan), and the young policeman (Jimmy Hanley) who sets out to avenge his murdered colleague.

Set down like that, “The Blue Lamp” may not sound like anything out of the ordinary – but director Basil Dearden, by skilful use of real places, has for the first time shown the real London with its narrow streets and teeming people. Filming took place at several police stations – particularly Paddington Green – and every detail in the script was checked for accuracy by Scotland Yard.

The climax of the film is a breath-taking car chase through London, one of the most exciting ever filmed. (It took cameramen and dare-devil drivers weeks to prepare). This culminates in the trapping of the gangster in the middle of a packed greyhound meeting. (These scenes were shot at White City Stadium).

Jack Warner is magnificently normal as an ordinary London copper, and he regards this as his best film performance so far. Dirk Bogarde got the part that he has always wanted to play – the ruthless young crook who is really yellow underneath. For Peggy Evans, a slender, striking young blonde, it means success in her first really important role – but it won’t be long before there is more to come. Altogether, Ealing can be proud of what they say is their “first film in a full programme for 1950.” If they’re all like “The Blue Lamp” the British film situation will look a lot healthier.