Best wartime RAF film.
- The Way to the Stars review by Steve Mason
Even before the fighting was over Britain began to reflect nostalgically and mythologise World War II. Which Anthony Asquith and tail gunner and scriptwriter Terence Rattigan did here for the RAF from 1939-1944. The action starts looking backwards, the camera seeking out memories from the unmaintained airfield, the traces left behind by the flyers and mechanics. Then we're back to the Battle of Britain, the adrenaline rush of the conflict, the sadness of the pilots who didn't return, hidden by the survivors behind a stiff smile and an aphorism. Like Flight Lieutenant Michael Redgrave, mourned by his widow, in a touching performance by Rosamund John. Much of the film takes place in the local hotel, where the pilots unwind, dominated by resident pub bore Stanley Holloway. In 1942 the Americans arrive and John Mills and Basil Radford are joined by Douglass Montgomery and Bonar Colleano and much cultural misunderstanding ensues. The film stays a long way from the action. We just see the eyes from the ground raised skywards and counting the planes coming in. It's a powerfully moving film of stoicism and sacrifice and try getting through it without shedding a few tears.
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
Classic British Wartime Drama
- The Way to the Stars review by GI
This is one of a series of British war films made during the Second World War and designed to show the viewing public a morale boosting view of military life although this one takes things a bit further and follows a melodrama style story. It's set on an RAF bomber base in southern England beginning in 1940 and initially follows the trials and tribulations of a small group of RAF Blenheim bomber crews as they face life and loss. Led by Michael Redgrave as the caring commander and involving the, at first novice but later battle fatigued, Flying Officer Penrose played by John Mills. This is not a film that follows the characters into combat but relies on the effects of their roles on those left behind principally friends and lovers who congregate in a small country hotel near to the base. Eventually the base is passed over to American crews and the same story lines continue and in one the film is actually quite risqué for its time in suggesting an adulterous relationship between an American pilot (Douglass Montgomery) and the hotel owner (Rosamund John), whose husband was killed on an operation. Like all these films made in the UK during this time there's a delightful sense of the times and the film oozes with nostalgia. The cast includes early roles for Trevor Howard and Jean Simmons as well as some very regular British actors of the day. A film to seek out if you have a fondness for these war dramas from the 1940s/50s, it certainly is an interesting film and a delight to watch the various aircraft scenes.
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.