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
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Boulting
Roy Boulting
Produced byJohn Boulting
Roy Boulting
Written byJames Bernard
Roy Boulting
Paul Dehn
Frank Harvey
StarringBarry Jones
Music byJohn Addison (composing debut)
CinematographyGilbert Taylor
Edited byJohn Boulting
Roy Boulting
Distributed byBritish Lion Films (UK)
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.

Main cast

Reception and awards

The film performed reasonably well at the box office.[1]

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.[2]

DVD release

Seven Days to Noon became available on DVD in 2008.



  1. Murphy, Robert (2005) [1992]. Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain 1939-48. London & New York: Routledge. p. 212.
  2. "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
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