The Halfway House

In DVD/Blu-ray by Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Ealing is one of those evergreen brands–so entrenched in our psyches that the names of their films trip off the tongue. Kind Hearts And Coronets, Whiskey Galore!, Passport To Pimlico…Theirs is a back catalogue of nostalgic Anglophilia, guaranteed to leave you with the warm fuzzies.

The Halfway House isn’t a title that’s often re-screened but, arguably, its charm and gentle humour puts it right up there with Ealing’s best.

Written by Angus MacPhail (Whiskey Galore!), Diana Morgan (Went the Day Well?) and T.E.B Clarke (The Titfield Thunderbolt), Halfway House was adapted from Denis Ogden’s stage play The Peaceful Inn—which was later filmed for the BBC.

However, while Ogden’s play was a supernatural melodrama, Ealing’s take is a much warmer look at human frailties, foibles, hopes, and fears. Mervyn Johns and his real life daughter Glynis play the otherworldly father and daughter whose presence serves as a gentle guide to the guests who come to re-evaluate their lives and their contribution to the war effort. 

While many British films did, and still do, focus on the lives of the rich and the famous—with the working class far too often cast as villains or comedy relief—Ealing took an inclusive approach, portraying ordinary people, with shared concerns, that cut across regional and class divides. 

Halfway House is a film that takes its time telling its tale and some viewers will struggle with the ponderous tone, slow pace, and dated dialogue. But for all it’s faults there’s gold here. This is a film that will warm your weary heart. They don’t make them like this any more.

Released as part of StudioCanal’s Vintage Classics Collection, this new release is fully-restored with brand new extra content. It is available on DVD, digital and on blu-ray for the first time.