Life on a British bomber base, and the surrounding towns, from the opening days of the Battle of Britain, to the arrival of the Americans, who join in the bomber offensive. The film centres... See full summary »
A wartime cottage on a Scottish estate becomes a focus of attention when not only the new tenant but a London evacuee and a downed fighter pilot all move in. The interest may not be ... See full summary »
Jeanne De Casalis
Mountain girl Trigger Hicks, a fierce loner equally handy with a rock or a prayer, is in danger of having her faith-healing mistaken for witchcraft by the neighbors. She shows a vulnerable ... See full summary »
Man about town and First Class cricketer A.J. Raffles keeps himself solvent with daring robberies. Meeting Gwen from his schooldays and falling in love all over again, he spends the weekend... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
Dame May Whitty
A naval officer who had deserted several years earlier is drawn back to the Navy when World War II begins. He re-enlists under an assumed name, and is assigned to a minesweeper, where he ... See full summary »
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 »
The Rolls Royce Merlin engine is not named after the character from the King Arthur legends. Rolls Royce named some of its engines after birds of prey, such as Merlin, Peregrine, Kestrel, Goshawk. See more »
The development of the Spitfire fighter plane by the Royal Air Force is considered a crucial factor in winning the Battle of Britain in that crisis year of 1941. It could fly faster and higher than the best German fighters and of course being right at home base it had the advantage of being able to instantly refuel. Unless a German pilot could shoot one down, a tie was always to the defenders because the German eventually had to return home for fuel.
Though he didn't live to see it, credit for the design of the Spitfire and a share of winning the Battle of Britain goes to Reginald J. Mitchell who had been dead four years before the Battle of Britain. This film is a tribute to him as realized by Producer/Director/Star Leslie Howard.
The problem one encounters in biographical films of this sort occurs when the subject lead colorless lives. We don't get that much of Mitchell here I suspect because outside of designing aircraft he probably was a pretty dull fellow. But Howard and David Niven who played his friend and test pilot are capable players and there's enough aerial footage to satisfy any buff.
Howard's seminal moment in the film occurs when he goes to Germany to view their nascent airplane industry and realizes just who is the target of all these new warplanes. He comes back and through sheer persistence and conviction persuades the Air Ministry and the Baldwin government to start the development of a better fighter plane.
Curiously enough the American aviator hero Charles Lindbergh got the same treatment from the Germans and came back to America with a message of defeatism. Interesting the different reactions when aviation people start talking shop.
Had Leslie Howard not died ironically enough a battlefield casualty as the airliner he was on shot down in 1943 in the Bay of Biscay, The First of the Few might have been the beginning of a great career behind the camera. Probably would have extended into British television as well as the cinema.
Still this film is a fine farewell and a tribute to two British patriots, Leslie Howard and Reginald J. Mitchell.
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