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By the late 1920's aircraft designer R.J. Mitchell feels he has achieved all he wants with his revolutionary mono-planes winning trophy after trophy. But a holiday in Germany shortly after Hitler assumes power convinces him that it is vital to design a completely new type of fighter plane and that sooner or later Britain's very survival may depend on what he comes to call the Spitfire. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the film Leslie Howard's Mitchell says he wants his new fighter to be "a bird that breathes fire and spits out death and destruction; A *spitfire* bird", giving the aircraft its name. In reality, when RJ Mitchell was told the name the RAF had given to his design he is supposed to have said: "That's the sort of bloody silly name they *would* choose!" See more »
During the air race in Italy, the Supermarine flown by Niven is an open cockpit while in the air. After the race as Howard is standing by the plane it is shown with an open forward hinged canopy cover. See more »
[Sotto voce, to the heavens]
Mitch, Mitch, they can't take the Spitfires Mitch. They can't take 'em.
See more »
Opening credits prologue: Zero Day September 15th, 1940 See more »
Der kleine Rekrut
Music by Friedrich Wilhelm Kücken
Arranged by Roy Douglas See more »
This movie, a biopic of R.J. Mitchell, inventor of the Spitfire plane, saw the final appearance of that great British actor, Leslie Howard, who died in 1943 when his plane was shot down by the Germans. It was a fitting finale that one of his best roles, as the idealistic dreamer Mitchell, was his last.
Equally good (but perhaps a little young for the role) is David Niven as Mitchell's close pal Crisp. Niven was always good value and was convincing in uniform or official roles. Rosamund John has the remaining plum part as Mrs Mitchell, and plays the part very well.
'The First of the Few' works as propaganda, as an involving war actioner, and as a character study of an eccentric inventive mind. Howard's skill as a director ensures all angles are adequately covered and that the viewer is rarely bored. Dated it may be (and obviously so given the date of production) but should still appeal to a wide and discerning audience.
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