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During the Allied Bombing offensive of World War II the public was often informed that "A raid took place last night over ..., One (or often more) of Our Aircraft Is Missing". Behind these sombre words hid tales of death, destruction and derring-do. This is the story of one such bomber crew who were shot down and the brave Dutch patriots who helped them home. Written by
Steve Crook <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Whilst on the Dutch road, the airmen are passed by a supposedly German armoured car. The vehicle is actually a British-made Humber. See more »
[as RAF bombers approach]
Jo de Vries:
You see. That's what you're doing for us. Can you hear them running for shelter? Can you understand what that means to all the occupied countries? To enslaved people, having it drummed into their ears that the Germans are masters of the Earth. Seeing those masters running for shelter. Seeing them crouching under tables. And hearing that steady hum night after night. That noise which is oil for the burning fire in our hearts.
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Downed RAF Bomber crew, aided by Dutch Resistance, try to return to Britain in early World War II.
Given that this movie was made about the then contemporary World War II times, without the benefit of a huge budget (compared to now), generations before computer graphics became the norm, it is refreshing to see a sensible depiction of those wartime conditions. Imagine making a picture of the bombing raids over Germany in the (I presume Mosquito) bombers, not known to be that secure from ground based A.A.C. fire they could not fly higher, as could the later Lancasters. I feel the directors chose correctly in making it a character driven piece, with the action sublimated somewhat.
I caught this movie on a relatively new local TV station, it was one of their first offerings albeit in the early morning, I did not know about the movie before. What also surprised me was the appearance of later 'stars', Robert Helpmann, Peter Ustinov and Googie Withers, though she was fairly established by then. By co-incidence, I had viewed earlier that evening a British Documentary feature where the grandchildren of the original RAF bomber crew-members were to learn to actually fly a remaining WW II aircraft. And that reference was cool. The atmosphere exhibited in that doco, certainly the old time news clips, recent interviews of the veterans, rang true to the movie, especially with the actual ( or the perceived depiction if it was only that ) film of the raids over Germany and the resultant destruction.
The characterisations were laid back, as befits the RAF types, and the Dutch citizens, who organised the Resistance, were well played. Besides the unexpected cast members, there was another piece of 'recoginition' I found fascinating, and I hope it wasn't used in the film, (made in either 1941 or 1942, both are given in various sources), and gave away the Resistance as the war was only half over then. Of course the film makers had no idea how long the war would last or just what was in store for them. The pace of the film was a bit pedestrian, all the better I think, to enable the characters to be developed, and the bits of business the group had to 'endure' was fairly realistic, reasonably true to life. I guess there must have been some propaganda value in the movie as I couldn't imagine that opportunity would have been missed by the British authorities, maybe even instigated it, in league with the Dutch. I could hardly blame them.
All in all, I thought it was a fascinating movie, a benchmark. For others to come it also was a benchmark, to be creditable one had to do at least as well. Whether our later techniques make it easier, or convenient, or cost effective, or entertaining, or thought provoking, is a matter for our future, but looking back sixty odd years I think they produced a fine movie.
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