DO IT NOW [Main Title]

Catalogue number
  • COI 850
Production date
Place made
Subject period
  • whole: Number Of Items/reels/tapes 1


License Film
Object description

A film released within days of Great Britain's declaration of war on Nazi Germany in September 1939 containing government advice to the people of Britain what to do and what not to do now that war has come.

Physical description


Full description

START 01:00:00 British Board of Film Censors intertitle. Opening titles and credits. Beginning with a close-up shot of a steel helmet being put on, there is an introduction in synchronised sound by a strongly built man wearing a steel hat and a 'Westminster Warden' armband on his left arm and with the strap of a gas mask container across his chest. He explains the film's purpose - to illustrate the things its audience should and shouldn't do now that war has come - and points out that althought the film was originally made "during those last fateful days... when it became plain that Hitler intended war", the advice it now contains is much more urgent.

Full description

01:01:05 Over Elgar's 'Pomp and Circumstance', shots showing people and press reporters and photographers in Downing Street, army gunners manning a Bofors 40mm L/60 light anti-aircraft cannon, sailors on board a Royal Navy warship closed up around their twin 4-inch dual purpose gun, RAF fighter pilots running towards their Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire Mk I aircraft, crowds waiting outside the Houses of Parliament in Parliament Square as two black limousines and a London taxi motor past the camera, a line of Metropolitan Policemen filing out of a police station, firemen in steel helmets and with gas masks slung over their fire jackets running to man fire engines in a London Fire Brigade station, crowds of spectators and heavy traffic on the junction of Westminster Bridge Road and Parliament Square and British Army gunners manning a rangefinder and a mechanical gunnery predictor on an anti-aircraft gun site somewhere in London.

Full description

01:02:08 A sequence warning people not to spread rumours consisting of a view of BBC Broadcasting House from Upper Regent Street, a newspaper vendor in the street standing next to hoardings advertising the latest headlines for the Anglo-German crisis over Poland for 'The Evening News', 'The Evening Standard' and 'The Star' as a London double decker bus passes by and a scene filmed in front of Admiralty House (?) showing three men in smart office clothes swapping gossip and rumours. Two women in conversation, allegedly spreading more rumours. Scenes showing two men erecting corrugated steel sections for an Anderson Shelter in a square pit they have dug in their back garden, screwing a nut and bolt assembly tight to tie two sections together, and heaping soil to cover the shelter with other members of the family. A sequence urging people not to indulge in panic-buying showing a middle-aged lady wearing a fox stole buying a large amount of tinned food in a grocer's store and getting the male shop assistant to bring her more items off the shelf. Window displays of tinned food in neat piles. A pallet of frozen beef carcasses are unloaded from a freighter in London Docks. Scenes filmed in Smithfield Meat Market, crates of freshly-caught plaice and cod (filmed at Billingsgate), porters at work in the fruit and vegetable market at Covent Garden. An interior shot of crates of food in a refrigerated warehouse. A housewife opens a pantry cupboard to put an emergency supply of tinned food inside before closing the door. Pedestrians including a tall lady with a shopping basket under her arm passing a fruit and vegetable stall in Covent Garden (?).

Full description

01:03:51 Shots illustrating basic air raid precautions in the home showing a couple clearing out old belongings left in their attic and putting them into an old suitcase before disposing of them. A man leaves a bucket filled with sand and a spade on a first floor landing next to two other buckets filled with water. A man digs dry soil in his back garden and puts it in a bucket as a substitute for sand. A woman picks up her cardboard gas mask container from a side table and leaves her house by the front door with it in her hand. A woman gets up from her soft chair in her sitting room with a pencil and note book in hand and places them on a table next to a wireless set. A sequence illustrating careless use of the telephone showing a young women idly chatting to her boyfriend over the telephone and popping chocolates into her mouth whilst the operator at the local GPO telephone exchange tries to get another call put through to her line. A sequence about the importance of carrying personal details at all times in which a middle-aged man writes his name and address (A C Brown, 37 Bury Road) on a bit of paper with a pen and his wife stitches a name label (Johnny Brown, 37 Bury Road, Blackheath, SE23) onto a jumper belonging to her son and helps him into it. A sequence about the importance of obeying government restrictions on travel showing a uniformed Southern Region employee chalking a notice on a blackboard on the concourse at Victoria Station (?) advising passengers of cancelled train services and a notice informing the public that the Dunkirk ferry service is cancelled in both directions until further notice.

Full description

01:05:21 Wearing name tags and carrying gas masks, bags and small suitcases, children who have been selected for evacuation to the countryside set off for a mainline railway station that will take them to their destination. Outside a London Underground station, an official notice informs the public that tube train services are reserved mainly for evacuees on this day. Evacuee children make their way past the ticket barrier inside an Underground station and are seen sitting on the ground inside a mainline railway terminus (possibly Paddington Station) under the supervision of adults. A steam train speeds along the Great Western Railway line past the large gas holder at Hayes, Middlesex. A travelling shot from a fast-moving train as the countryside flashes past. A sequence designed to reassure the anxious parents of children evacuated to the countryside that they will be safe and happy, showing cattle grazing in a meadow outside a village somewhere in the West Country. Evacuee children are seen sitting down to eat a hot main meal. A female volunteer spoon-feeds a little girl sitting on her knee. A young boy eats food from a bowl. A woman teacher holds an outdoor music lesson for evacuee children. The female carer seen earlier is seen putting two young girls to bed. The young boy sharing the same bedroom bounces onto the bed and falls off the other side. He climbs back into bed. The two girls in the next bed are seen fast asleep next to their gasmasks on the bedside table.

Full description

01:06:45 A sequence illustrating the need to obey Air Raid Precautions (ARP) in anticipation of heavy enemy air raids on British towns and cities, showing a woman inside her home placing a blackout screen over a window in the sitting room whilst her husband on the pavement at the front of their home makes sure that there is no light showing. Neon lights at the Leicester Square Odeon Cinema advertising a new British feature film, 'The Spy in Black' starring Conrad Veidt, Sebastian Shaw and Valerie Hobson are switched off. Daylight scenes filmed in the centre of London (Fleet Street and Sutton Row between Soho Square and Charing Cross Road) show pedestrians going about their business with shop fronts on the buildings in the background protected from bomb blast by sandbags and pieces of timber, workmen repairing something in the street and an ice cream street vendor doing some trade. As the air raid siren goes off (no sound effects), the workmen and other pedestrians seek shelter in public shelters (the first one in Soho Square) whose entrance has a blast screen made out of sandbags. A shot of a rooftop air raid warning siren in operation. A policeman runs along a suburban street (Bennett Park, Blackheath) blowing his whistle, prompting the few people out in the open to seek shelter. A uniformed Post Office messenger boy parks his bicycle on the pavement next to the entrance of a public shelter. The heavy doors of a public shelter are reopened to allow two latecomers, a father and his son, to enter. Shots of people making their way along a corridor down to the shelter and, outside, the parked bicycle, the ice cream bicycle trolley, the builders' cart and the deserted street. Shots illustrating the precautions to be taken in the event of an enemy poison gas attack. an ARP warden wearing a steel helmet and a gas mask and dressed in a gas-proof decontamination suit walks down a residential street using a rattle to warn people that a gas attack is imminent. Shots showing a woman donning her government-issue gas mask and members of one family in gas masks rushing into their Anderson shelter. People are seen inside the shelter and crouched low behind a sand bag wall with gas masks over their heads. Shots showing the Anderson shelter in the back garden with family members inside and deserted roads and residential streets in different parts of London.

Full description

01:08:41 As an air raid siren sounds the 'All Clear (no sound effects) an ARP warden in a gas decontamination suit walks along a city street (Sutton Row) ringing a bell informing everyone that there is no poison gas present. People emerge from their air raid shelters and places of refuge and remove their gas masks. One man lights up a cigarette as he looks up at the sky. An end sequence over Elgar's 'Nimrod' (from 'Enigma Variations') consisting of views of barrage balloons flying high in the sky over London (filmed on Hampstead Heath ?) and modern factories along the A4 Great West Road in Brentford, the interiors of a factory with transmission belts powering the machine tools on the factory floor, clerical workers (mainly female) behind their desks in a large office, a large ship - the Cunard White Star liner Mauretania - going down the slipway at the Cammell Laird shipyard at Birkenhead on 28th July 1938, tall lattice masts at a radio transmitting station (?), a prosperous-looking farm where sheep graze peacefully in a meadow and farm workers feeding wheat into a mechanical threshing machine next to a long low barn.

Full description

01:10:10 Closing titles with words from Chamberlain's declaration of war speech of 3rd September 1939: "It is the evil things we shall be fighting against... and against them I am certain that the right will prevail".

Full description

END 01:10:32

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