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Clouds Over Europe (1939)
"Q Planes" (original title)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Mystery  |  20 June 1939 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 380 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 7 critic

Lighthearted romp of a pre-war spy story: quirky British secret service man finds out who's using a secret weapon to steal experimental planes.

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(story), (story), 2 more credits »
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Title: Clouds Over Europe (1939)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
George Curzon ...
George Merritt ...
Gus McNaughton ...
Blenkinsop, Hammond's Butler
David Tree ...
R. Mackenzie
Sandra Storme ...
Daphne
Hay Petrie ...
Stage Door Keeper
Frank Fox ...
Karl
George Butler ...
Air Marshal Gosport
Gordon McLeod ...
The Baron
...
John Peters, a Pilot (as John Longdon)
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Storyline

Experimental aircraft of several countries are mysteriously vanishing during test flights over the sea. The latest is British, and Hammond of the Secret Service, comical but competent, investigates undercover. Also interested is waitress Kay, a disguised reporter...and Hammond's sister. The government and plane manufacturer Barrett think the whole business is just coincidence, but the 'Viking,' ostensible salvage ship controlled by a Foreign Power, has much to do with it... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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See the star of hit "Wuthering Heights"...in a thrill packed romantic drama!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 June 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Clouds Over Europe  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Several scenes were filmed at Brooklands - the Clubhouse and the banking are clearly visible. When the Ministry Dragon Rapide comes into land a Wellington is just visible in the background. The test plane appears to be an Airspped Oxford; other planes were Tiger Moths and Gypsy Moths, and possibly a Bristol Fighter (just the engine and propeller are seen). See more »

Goofs

When Tony mans the machine gun, he sprays the enemy crew with gunfire. Some of the crew are right in front of the plane, so the plane should be riddled with bullet holes. But no bullet holes can be seen. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Barrett: Alright! Alright! Will you as a personal favour take that plane up?
Tony McVane: Well of course I will, you parboiled, pudding-minded, myopic deadhead!
See more »

Soundtracks

Matterhorn Theme
(uncredited)
from The Challenge (1938)
Music by Allan Gray
See more »

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User Reviews

Politics of the Eccentric
3 June 2004 | by (Corpus Christi TX) – See all my reviews

A secret British aviation project is being disrupted by a foreign power, until an effete but supremely confident intelligence agent, Charles Hammond, is assigned the case. What follows is a tense espionage thriller that refuses to take itself seriously. Yet strangely, this odd mixture of screwball comedy and political potboiler actually works.

"Q Planes" (released in America as "Clouds Over Europe") was directed by an American, Tim Whelan, who establishes a near-anarchic tone throughout. Here, he satirizes what other late-1930's filmmakers may have considered too serious a subject to examine lightly: a potentially disastrous affair for King and country, in which experimental aircraft are being "electronically" hijacked right out of the sky and docked within the confines of a large ship from a hostile nation. (The culprits' nationality is never identified, but as soon as they speak their lines in that thick Teutonic accent, we can just about guess their origin.)

The dialogue, much of it written and improvised by the actors themselves, is crackling, smart; and the action, while wildly improbable and clumsily staged, is as unreal and stylized as the characters. The joker in the deck is Hammond himself. As portrayed by Ralph Richardson, he boasts to anyone who will listen of his own considerable skills as a solver of crimes, a solver of crossword puzzles, and a solver of lovers' squabbles. Despite such brash self-assurance, however, Hammond is never tedious. Richardson plays him as an eccentric of many shades and interests – horse-racing addict, amateur master chef, verbal wit extraordinaire, constant belittler of his "gentleman's gentleman" (Gus McNaughton), and a man whose obsession with the intrigue of his case causes him to repeatedly ignore his beloved Daphne (Sandra Storme), the single character who bests Hammond in the film's fittingly ironic conclusion.

Hammond is aided on the case by his intrepid sister-reporter, Kay (Valerie Hobson), and a temperamental test-pilot, Tony McVane (Laurence Olivier), whom Kay picks up while snooping around an aircraft factory. Kay's character may have been intended as a caricature of the "liberated" working English suffragette. But she holds her own when competing with her two male cohorts - McVane, who hates reporters and let's rip whenever he hears mention of Kay's profession, and Hammond, the charismatic, ardent egoist-as-detective. "I'm right!" he proclaims to his doubting superiors. "I'm right - and the whole world is wrong!" Naturally, Hammond's irregular method of sleuthing bears out his claim – as if any enemy country could measure up in a contest against single representatives of MI-5, Fleet Street, and the RAF.


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