Someone gets hold of an atomic bomb and decides to resort to blackmail . Boy I haven't seen a movie like this for almost a whole week . Can't story tellers think up something new ? Hey wait a minute the blackmailer is a white English guy called Professor Willoughby and SEVEN DAYS TO NOON was made in 1950 !
What can I say about this underrated British masterpiece ? It gives a whole new meaning to the word " Groundbreaking " , every time you see a movie like TRUE LIES featuring a bunch of nutters trying to nuke a city you know where they got the idea from . What makes SEVEN DAYS TO NOON stand out from the movies that followed it is the way it's written and directed . it'd be so easy for Willoughby to be a complete raving headcase but he's written in such a way you'll believe he existed in real life , he's someone who became a scientist to improve the lot of humanity and because of politicians he finds his work being used for destructive means . Do I see hints that this character influenced Nigel Kneale when he wrote his Quatermass stories ? Willoughby's well thought out arguments are interesting even though you might not agree with them .The scenario is helped even further by casting Barry Jones in the role , Jones being an actor who I'd no knowledge of hence I wasn't watching a well known face doing an acting performance I was watching a scientist with serious internal dilemmas . The reality is heightened even further by the Boulting brothers directing in the style of a documentary very similar to the way Fred Zimmerman later directed DAY OF THE JACKAL
As much as I've praised it there are one or two flaws . One is I couldn't take seriously the idea that the government would announce the truth and then evacuate London . Of course Willoughby not being a terrorist is essential to the plot , he won't detonate the bomb if alerted but again the government of the day would know this so why evacuate ? Think about it: Would he be more likely or less likely to press the button if there's ten million Londoners still in the city . I also found Prof Willoughby's ultimate fate very contrived
One other point of interest of this movie is that you're aware of how everything is different in Britain over the preceding decades . They'd be no need to stick posters all over London because television has become the medium for communication , ration books disappeared in 1952 and Britain still had a big enough army to spare four divsions to search for one man , so as a period piece alone SEVEN DAYS TO NOON makes interesting viewing
As a footnote the montage scenes of the soldiers combing London for Willoughby were reused for Hammer's cinema version of THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT . What makes this even more interesting is that the screenwriter of SEVEN DAYS TO NOON James Bernard ( Who won an Oscar for this screenplay along with Paul Dehn ) composed the music for THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT