English Criminal Justice

About the film

Dramatically told, English Criminal Justice takes us on a journey through the principles and procedures of the various courts of law in Britain.

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  • Release year - 1946
  • Director - Ken Annakin
  • Production company - Greenpark Productions
  • Producer - Henry Cass
  • Screenplay - Ken Annakin, R.F. Delderfield
  • Cinematographer - Raymond Elton
  • Composer - Ben Frankel
  • Narration - Harold Warrender
  • Editor - Peter Scott
  • Settings and Design - George Haslam
  • Assistant Director - Arthur Mann
  • Camera Operators - Chris Doll, Bob Walker
  • Running time (minutes) - 20 mins 46 secs

Original description

How the law is administered

'In England there are different courts according to the gravity of the crimes. The main principles of English criminal law are: the accused is tried by a jury; he is presumed to be innocent unless he can be proved guilty; he does not have to pay for his own defence; and the trial takes place in open court with the press and public present.'

(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1947-50)

Did you know?

  • Alfred Hitchcock requested a copy of English Criminal Justice to help inform the legal procedures featured in his 1947 film The Paradine Case.
  • The newspaper article as seen in the Daily Herald (at 01:39) and the imagined murder scene appear to be a reference to the Neville Heath murders which made many headlines in 1946 whilst English Criminal Justice was in production.
  • In his autobiography, director Ken Annakin recalls his experience of making English Criminal Justice, and how proving he could work with actors led to his break in feature films:

“I touted around London and found the British Council urgently needed a film explaining to foreigners the working of the British legal system. In two weeks I devised three short stories which illustrated the workings of a Magistrate’s Court, an Assize Court, and the famous Old Bailey where the most important murder trials took place.

The script was accepted and I was given a budget which would enable me to cast ten average-priced actors and two reasonably well known. We shot in real courts around London and Oxford and built the essential parts of the Old Bailey in the small Merton Park Studios... British [sic] Criminal Justice was shot and edited in twelve weeks, and the Council was so delighted with it that they begged me to go to South America and lecture with the film in Brazil, the Argentine, and Chile.”

(Annakin, Ken - So You Wanna Be a Director? - 2001.)

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