'THE FOUR JUST MEN' (1939) Ealing Films
'The Four Just Men' (1939) Hugh Sinclair, Francis L. Sullivan, Frank Lawton, Griffith Jones

The prevailing version shown of this film is titled: 'The Secret Four' USA (1940)

Here is a description of making a 16mm 'hybrid' print from two USA release versions - a more complete and closest to the original release of this classic Ealing drama from 1939.

In 2005 my first 16mm print of 'The Four Just Men' Ealing Films (1939) was a US version retitled 'Secret Column,' Printed on Kodak stock Edge code" Circle Circle " for 1940, and issued as a propaganda piece for United States audiences. Unfortunately the concept of the geography of the countries of Europe where the films action plays out, had been edited out.

For instance in 'Secret Column' the incarceration and escape from the dungeon in Germany to France and return to England was edited so that the action plays out as if it were possible for James Terry (Frank Lawton) to be shot at in a phone booth in France and then appear wounded in a flat in London in the very next scene.

The ending of the film too appeared altered. It ends where the (three) get together but appears to have been remade using the same actors listening to a patriotic radio announcement, with a newsreel-style finale. This was added in 1944 for the reissue version of the film. It seems that British films of this period were revamped for US audiences for propoganda reasons after the US entered the war.

Fortunately years later I was able to locate another 16mm print in Canada and this time with the original titles intact. But again this was not quite the original UK release. However there were several extra scenes included, like the arrival of Frank Snell (Basil Sydney), that could be used to restore the missing scenes. Also the ending appears to be the original one with a toast toTerry their lost comrade.

By running the two prints in parallel on two Steenbeck flatbeds it was possible to identify and recover missing scenes to make up the most complete composite 'hybrid' print.


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