An Inspector Calls (1954 film)

An Inspector Calls

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Produced by A. D. Peters
Written by Desmond Davis (screenplay)
J.B. Priestley (play)
Starring Alastair Sim
Music by Francis Chagrin
Cinematography Edward Scaife
(as Ted Scaife)
Edited by Alan Osbiston
Distributed by British Lion Film Corporation
Associated Artists Productions
Release dates
16 March 1954 (London)
25 November 1954 (USA)
Running time
80 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

An Inspector Calls is a 1954 film directed by Guy Hamilton and written for the screen by Desmond Davis. It is based upon the play of the same name by J.B. Priestley. It stars Alastair Sim.


Set in 1912, a dinner party held by the upper class Birling family is interrupted by a man calling himself Inspector Poole, investigating the suicide of a lower class girl Eva Smith whose death is linked to each family member.[1]



An Inspector Calls was filmed at Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England, under the auspices of the Watergate Productions Ltd.

In the original play, the Inspector's name was Inspector Goole.[2]

"An interesting fact for me is that in J.B. Priestley's play the surname of the eponymous Inspector is 'Goole' whereas in the film his surname is 'Poole'. This has been the source of a few heated debates on the net and, initially, I was slightly disappointed in this apparent misnomer myself. However, it seems to me, that on the written page, 'Goole' can be used as the name of the protagonist without the reader making the immediate verbal connection to 'Ghoul'. However, in the spoken word, 'Goole' and 'Ghoul' are the same and therefore the final denouement of the film may be anticipated by the audience and much of the suspense lost." –Steve Hopley

Although the play never shows Eva Smith, the film opens in flashbacks that show each member of the family's involvement in Smith's life. The relationships between Eva and Gerald, and later, Eric, are smoothed over in accordance with the censorship of the day. Still, enough elements are retained to give the viewer a good idea of the depth of involvements.

In the play, Eva is first sacked for being involved in a strike; in the film, she is simply sacked for suggesting that the wages requested were necessary to live on. Similarly, in the play, Sheila is trying on a dress when the incident with Eva occurs in the shop; in the film, the incident is over a hat.

The film makes the Inspector out to be more explicitly "supernatural" than does the play. In the play, he is ushered in by the maid, while in the film he simply appears suddenly in the dining room as if from nowhere, accompanied by an ominous chord in the background music. In the middle of the film, he inspects his pocket watch and asks Eric to enter the room. He states he has just heard Eric come through the door; but eerily he states this before Eric does come through the door. Likewise, at the end, when the family receives the phone call that the local police are on their way to question them, the Inspector is supposedly in the study, but when the family checks to see if he is there, they find an empty chair and that he has gone.


C. A. Lejeune, film critic of The Observer, recommended the film; despite its lack of technical polish, its slow pace and often trite dialogue, she found it thought-provoking.[3] The film currently has a "certified fresh" score of 80%.


  1. A.W. (26 November 1954). "An Inspector Calls (1954) At the Plaza". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 October 2008.
  2. "An Inspector Calls". The Internet Broadway Database. 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
  3. Lejeune, C A (14 March 1954). "GUILTY PARTY". The Observer.

External links

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