Star Archive

Humphrey Jennings (1907- 1950)

British directors are a much-maligned bunch. Only a handful of them are reckoned to be world class. Humphrey Jennings is one of that handful.

He was born in Suffolk into a middle-class family. After getting a First at Cambridge he drifted through a number of arty jobs. He fetched up at John Grierson's GPO film Unit and began creating his special brand of documentary. Unlike his colleagues, he was not interested in educating his audience. The Mass Observation Studies of the thirties were a major influence on his work and he concentrated on capturing "real life". 

His early films have interest, but it took the war and a move to the Crown Film Unit to really bring out the best in him. The "all in this together" spirit of the Blitz tied in perfectly with his view of Britishness. His films capture the feeling of the time. It could be argued that the work is just propaganda to bolster the war effort; but the strongest form of propaganda is the truth, and Jennings' films feel truthful.

After the war he carried on film making, though the results lack the urgency of the best of his wartime work. He died in Greece from a cliff fall while researching his next film. 


1934 Locomotives
1934 Post Haste
1935 The Story of the Wheel
1936 The Birth of a Robot (co.)
1937 Farewell Topsails
1938 Penny Journey
1938 Her Last Trip
1938 Speaking from America
1938 The Farm
1938 Design for Spring
1938 English Harvest
1938 S. S. Ionian
1939 Spare Time
1939 The First Days (co.)
1939 Spring Offensive
1940 Welfare of the Workers (co.)
1940 London Can Take It (co.)
1941 Heart of Britain
1941 Words for Battle (co.)
1942 Listen to Britain (co.)
1943 Fires Were Started
1943 The Silent Village
1944 The True Story of Lilli Marlene
1944 The 80 Days
1945 A Diary for Timothy
1946 A Defeated People
1947 Cumberland Story
1949 Dim Little Island
1950 Family Portrait
1951 The Good Life (co.)

 Review of Humphrey Jennings by Kevin Jackson

 Humphrey Jennings at Amazon UK

 Humphrey Jennings at Amazon US