Cheer Boys Cheer as Rival Breweries Go to War

Many seminal movie moments have been set in pubs and bars – American Werewolf in London, From Dusk Till Dawn, Withnail & I, Star Wars for starters – but what about a film where a brewery is at the centre of the action? No – me neither. Well, that is until I started to do some digging and came across Cheer Boys Cheer.

Still doesn’t ring any bells? Maybe you’d have to be of a certain age as it was released in 1939 and has largely sunk without trace since. But it’s not without its merits – I tracked it down on DVD and whisked myself back to the year before there were bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover.


Strangely, despite being nearly eighty years old, Cheer Boys Cheer still retains relevance in the modern day, telling as it does the story of a hostile takeover of a small family-run brewery by a large impersonal mega-brewery. Greenleaf’s beer is superlative while the Ironsides ale is so chronic even its own directors won’t drink it. But the acquisitive Ironsides has the means of mass distribution and will stop at nothing in its bid to expand. Sound familiar?

Cheer Boys Cheer, produced at Ealing Studios, features the stock light entertainment hallmarks familiar to British cinema audiences of the day – a love interest, lashings of sentimentality and lots of knockabout humour. But what really makes it stand out is the allegory at work – the plucky Greenleaf is clearly Great Britain taking on the might of Nazi Germany in Ironsides.


And if any cinemagoer escaping the gathering war clouds didn’t immediately twig that connection there’s a glorious signpost where the head of Ironsides is seen reading Mein Kampf in his office.

Would we cheer the film today? It’s certainly a curio and at a brief 82 minutes running time is well worth a peek. The credits are superb too. (Spoiler alert – the good guys win in the end.)


At least Cheer Boys Cheer provides you with a good quiz question about films set in breweries. Any other suggestions, anyone?




Cheer Boys Cheer is available on DVD, The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection Volume 9

Trouble Brewing by Paul Carroll is out now: