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The Lion Has Wings (1939)

Alexander Korda's bit for the British war effort shows the world both at peace and on the verge of Nazi domination. Spliced together to form a documentary style film of both newsreel and ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Wing Commander Richardson
...
June
...
Queen Elizabeth I (archive footage)
Robert Douglas ...
Briefing Officer
Anthony Bushell ...
Pilot
Brian Worth ...
Bobby
Austin Trevor ...
Schulemburg - German Air Chief of Staff
Ivan Brandt ...
Air Officer
G.H. Mulcaster ...
Controller
Herbert Lomas ...
Holveg
Milton Rosmer ...
Head of Observer Corps
...
German Bomber Chief
Robert Rendel ...
British Chief of Air Staff
...
Unnamed Character
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Storyline

Alexander Korda's bit for the British war effort shows the world both at peace and on the verge of Nazi domination. Spliced together to form a documentary style film of both newsreel and acting. This first of its kind in propaganda films of World War II, shows the might of the English Empire and its eagerness to stand up to the oppressors of morality and free will. Crude but effective propaganda cinema that sets the tone for things to come. With its stiff upper lip attitude that pays tribute to the nations prides and shows the black plague of Nationalism spreading across Europe that England shall be motivated, ready and willing to retaliate. Written by Cinema_Fan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Timely - Thunderbolt adventure romance of the Royal Air Force!

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

19 January 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El león tiene alas  »

Box Office

Budget:

£30,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because it was started and completed so soon after the declaration of war and was seen to show how useful films could be in wartime, this film is considered to have done a lot towards allowing the British film industry to remain active throughout WWII, unlike in WWI when all cinemas were closed and filming effectively stopped for the duration. See more »

Goofs

The section of the film detailing Germany's prewar conquests contains several errors. The narrator states that Germany occupied the Rhineland in March, 1934. In fact, it was in 1936. Immediately after, a map inaccurately depicts the dismembering of Czechoslovakia in October 1938 and March 1939. The 1938 map depicts Germany annexing the Sudetenland, which is somewhat incorrectly drawn upon the map, but neither it nor the narration shows Hungary annexing the southern portion of Czechoslovakia, nor Poland taking the Teschen district in the center north of the country, both of which occurred simultaneously with Germany's occupation of the Sudetenland. (The narrator also speaks of the Sudetenland going "back" to Germany, though in fact it had never been part of Germany.) When the final dismemberment of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 is depicted, Germany is shown annexing outright not only the western Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia (which it did annex), but the center of the country as well; meanwhile, the extreme eastern end of the country is labeled "Slovakia", the nominally independent satellite state recognized by Germany. In fact, Slovakia was located in the center of the country, in areas inaccurately depicted as annexed to Germany; the eastern portion labeled "Slovakia" in the film is in fact an area then known as the Carpatho-Ukraine, which was annexed by Hungary the day after Germany occupied the Czech lands in the west (and is today part of Ukraine). See more »

Quotes

Narrator, original British version: This is Britain, where we believe in freedom...
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Crazy Credits

The producer expresses his gratitude for the co-operation which he received from the cast, production personnel, newsreel companies, the General Post Office and other documentary film units during the making of this picture. See more »

Connections

Featured in War Stories (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
British WWII Propaganda Film
27 May 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Released in 1939 as Britain was engaging Hitler's war machine, this B&W film cannot property be called a documentary. It is a dramatized propaganda film that masquerades as a fact-based call to arms.

The film portrays Britain as an idyllic land of goodwill and happy citizens. In contrast, Germany is portrayed by shots of Nazi soldiers spurred into action by Hitler's hateful histrionics. This is not a film of unbiased observation, obviously. It is the kind of cinema that inflames the emotions and plays on the heartstrings with stirring speeches of patriotism and images of ruddy-cheeked children and self-sacrificing lovers.

Be sure to read the "Goofs" section for this film as the film does contain inaccuracies. Accuracy was not the primary concern of its makers. They wished to motivate British viewers while assuring them that Britain is prepared, just, and in the right. I wonder if viewing the film was considered a patriotic duty at the time?

This film is well worth seeing for its historic footage and as an artifact of its time. Note that--like almost all who go to war--they underestimate the duration of impending hostilities. They forecast the war in Europe to be a 3-year struggle. This is partly due to an overestimation of British power. The film assures one that British resources are superior and British craftsmanship is second to none.

The narrator, who often sounds like a broadcaster at a football match, invokes various examples from British history to create an impression of invincibility. And the film quaintly promises that British resolve will overcome the "frightfulness".

In 1939, American cinema was enjoying its greatest year. In just two years, America would be dragged into the worldwide conflict and its cinematic resources would also produce propaganda that now looks quaint, biased, and sometimes shameful. "The Lion Has Wings" was paving the way for an unfortunate chapter in cinema that can be illuminating and interesting.


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