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|Index||30 reviews in total|
37 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Brilliantly atmospheric recreation of wartime Britain, 14 November 2002
Author: alfa-16 from Rural Kent, UK
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My French teacher, a Lancaster Pilot,used to say there were two films
which recreated WWII for him with almost uncanny realism. "Appointment
in London" was one of them but this was certainly the other. It's
release on DVD is long, long overdue.
Unlike many of the films about the air war, this one never leaves the ground. It opens with a magnificent tracking shot, almost as long as Altman's opening shot in The Player, as a casual voice-over takes the viewer into the airbase and homes in on the wall next to the phone in the barracks, which has a series of marks and pictures on it, apparently insignificant but all turn out to have highly emotive connections to pivotal events in the plot.
It catches the sustained mood of hope and fear, punctuated by moments of terror, hilarity, panic and relief. But these are moments. The unique thing in The Way to the Stars is the sense that everyday life had to be preserved by continuing to live it.
The Rattigan script is wonderful, as is the direction. The long pause before John Mills has to tell hotel manager Toddy that her husband has been killed, with no background music or noise to break the almost unbearable tension, is one of the most painful in all cinema. 20 minutes later we're dealt another shocking, but equally understated emotional blow. The wisecracking, cynical New York bomb-aimer fills in the entertainment at a children's party, replacing his captain, killed that morning, having sacrificed himself to avoid injuring the local civilians.
The soldierly respect and comradeship which rapidly replaces grating competitiveness as the Americans arrive on the base is also realistic (and refreshing given Hollywood's recent tendency to write the British out of WWII as in U571 or Saving Private Ryan, or worse, portray them dazed and confused. as in Band of Brothers.)
Elegaic, heroic, understated, brilliantly filmed, acted and directed, without actually showing any real combat, The Way to the Stars manages to be one of the greatest war films ever made.
31 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
Superb film - Montgomery's best and most memorable performance, 10 August 2004
Author: Arne Andersen (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Putney, VT
This is a wonderful film -read and believe all the other comments on
this page. The script, acting, direction, cinematography and editing
are top of the line. What a bevy of fine actors we have here - all
ensemble players - John Mills, Trevor Howard, Michael Redgrave, Stanley
Holloway, David Tomlinson, Felix Aylmer and with a song by Jean
It's riveting and heroic, tragic and brave, understated, strong - very character driven. Like GONE WITH THE WIND, it has no battle scenes- we see only the effect of battle on the intertwined lives present on an RAF WWII air base.
Outstanding is Douglass Montgomery in a strong supporting performance as Johnny Hollis, from whose character the alternate title (Johnny In The Clouds) is derived. It is his best work and he is incredibly good- he should have netted an Oscar nomination for his creation here. He has 22 scenes and is unforgettable in all of them.
Like the others writing here, I won't reveal the plot lines for it will weaken your experience if you know ahead of time. It is newly released on DVD and information re purchase is provided via a message board posting I just made to this page.
Don't miss this one. Note: the print I saw ran 104 minutes, not 109.
31 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
A film that deserves to be better known, 5 October 2000
Author: (email@example.com) from Australia
Curiously enough, I first came across this film in Halliwell's Film Guide.
Idly leafing through the pages, I came across this comment: "..One of the
few films which instantly bring back the atmosphere of the war in Britain
for anyone who was involved." While the Second World War ended many years
before I was born, it sounded interesting and I made a mental note that it
might be a good film to watch if ever I had the chance.
Months later, I was looking through my local tv guide in the list of movies that were on. I noticed "The Way to the Stars", and some little bell in the recesses of my memory began to toll. I looked up the movie in my film guide -- and decided that I had to see it.
As it turned out, that was a very happy decision. Others of the Second World War generation might be able to identify with the people and the setting of the film. I cannot, but I loved this movie for all the other reasons -- it really is a wonderful movie, a sad (and heroic) story of people during the war. Critics might provide an analysis of plot, characterisation etc, as a reason why it's such a good movie. I won't bother. I'll merely give this summary: It's one of my favourite films, it deserves to be better known, and you should see it if you get the chance.
27 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
An invaluable testimony, superbly produced, of what it was to be in Britain at war, 31 January 2000
Author: Malcolm from Jerusalem, Israel
I saw this film in Britain as a child when it first came out. The whole of our little town talked about it for days after it was shown in our single cinema. Of course, our population had been swollen by forces personnel, including airmen, so we were intimately familiar with the kind of events shown in the film. Now, learning from your web site the details of the distinguished writers, cast and production team, I understand better why it made such a deep impression. In brief, the film embodies the spirit of Britain as I remember it: firm resolve to defeat the Nazi evil, together with the consciousness of the tragedies and also the comic moments of World War II. This is something that is hard to imagine today, in Britain or elsewhere, and especially since the disillusionment produced by the Vietnam War. If only for this reason, the film is an invaluable testimony, truly portraying how British society was then. Other films from the 1940s are repeated constantly on TV; I have been waiting over fifty years to see this one again. Isn't it time for a video/DVD?
20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Film locations, 29 October 2004
Author: Peter from Yorkshire, England
What an excellent film, with a cast that lifts it above other films
made during WW2. Was there a British war film made that did not have
John Mills starring in it? Many of the actors here went on to become
familiar faces in film and British TV. The story-line and the absence
of background music do make this film both nostalgic and entertaining.
It may interest some that the 'Golden Lion' in the film does exist, it is a hotel in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. The street scenes were shot in nearby Bedale. I'm not sure which airfield was used, but it may have been one of the many bomber bases situated in this area, such as Leeming or Dishforth.
21 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
very warming, entertaining, watch it, 19 November 2002
Author: DSJ Kennedy (tara-ken) from South East England
The day i watched this film it was cold and damp outside, I settled in, turned up the heating, supplied myself with tea and cigarettes and was transported back to a black & white time in the 1940's when the world was fighting to keep Hitler at bay. The film is set on a RAF airfield, following the lives of several characters throughout the war. The filmmakers have done a great job in putting together an excellent cast, including the ever watchable John Mills,a young Bill Owen (Compo-only British people will know what I mean) Basil Radford and Michael Redgrave.The acting and screen writing is very natural and you are quickly sucked in to a way of life, of living, manners, morals, speech patterns, quiet heroism, that just doesn't exist anymore. There is no battles or bombings, all we see are the planes taking off and landing, but we don't need that, this film is about people and love and relationships, humour in the face of adversity, having to accept the death of your friends. There is good comedy relief in the shape the American air force guys who come to the base and the great Stanley Holloway. Check this film out it is excellent
18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
The Way To The (Ten) Stars, 8 July 2005
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of those 'period' films replete with the kind of dialogue that we've heard 'sent up' a thousand times and responded to the send ups by laughing at them but this film that SHOULD be faintly risible holds the attention and inspires tears rather than laughter. This is probably because it is as finely crafted as a Faberge egg or a Louis VIII commode. The screenplay is the work of Terence Rattigan, one of the finest English playwrights of the 20th century - indeed even a cursory glance at the relationship between Joyce Cary and her niece Renee Asherson reveals a blueprint for the Mrs Railton-Bell and daughter Sybil in Rattigan's Separate Tables which lay a good ten years in the future - who could and did turn his hand to the screenplay usually successfully as in The Sound Barrier. Michael Redgrave, destined to star magnificently in Rattigan's The Browning Version (directed, as here, by Puffin Asquith)stands out as the dashing and charming pilot who disappears far too soon having flown without his 'lucky' lighter and gone down in flames. Rattigan's strength as a writer of wartime drama is in concentrating on the people rather than the battles so that the planes are seen taking off and landing at Halfpenny Field and that is all. The ensemble cast complement each other perfectly from John Mills raw recruit maturing into a leader to Stanley Holloway's hotel bore. One of the finest of its kind.
16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
A brilliant moving, subtle picture of war, 1 March 2004
Author: Matt Fletcher (pooperscooper) from London, England
The reason why I choose this film as probably one of the greatest of its
time, is that it focus'
on the main characters to such a terrific extent, that you actually begin
dramatic appearances. Other British War films of the forties, such as
the Day Well?' and
'Fires Were Started' were effective in raising the public awareness of war
in a unique way, but
somewhat lacked in creating characters that you actually cared about. This
is where 'Way to
the Stars' achieves on so many levels - creating characters rather than
themes, which show
the true nature of war. The characters also represent some of the
characteristics that made
war so terrible. It's hard to go into much detail without spoiling the
- so I'll keep my my
closing comment short.
This film is a true gem of British film-making. It's a shame that it isn't up there with other war romances such as 'Casablanca' or 'Gone With The Wind'. I think it deserves it.
14 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
A very rare war film, 28 August 2006
Author: ambrosechris from Australia
This film is possibly my favorite film. Having seen it late at night on the ABC (Australian) I waited a year reading the television guide regularly until it was on again and taped it. I have since bought it on DVD. This is a brilliant look at the airmen based in Britain during WWII. It doesn't glorify the war or show one bomb dropping over Germany, but it glorifies the Men and Women who lived the times and suffered the war in a time when the fate of the world was uncertain. Touching and truthful. The cast are amazing and the script has a sense of humor which has long been associated with Britain in war times. the relationship between the English and Americans is at times funny when it comes to cultural differences, but as today the two countries stood together.
13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Life around a WWII air base shared by US and British airmen., 19 December 2000
Author: hugh.blanchard from London, England
The story is set around an English bomber air base during WWII, which
subsequently becomes host to the US 8th air force. The principle
frequent the local inn, run by 'Toddy', the wife of Flight Lieut. David
There is an ensemble of emotions, but the theme concentrates on stiff upper lip stoicism as bomber aircrew are faced with terrible odds of survival, and friends and loved ones make the best of the situation.
The movie was obviously made as a morale booster at the end of the war in Europe and features an outstanding poem that serves as an epitaph to airmen killed in action. The poem is a parody on one written by Heinrich Hoffman, the title translating to `The Story of Johnny Head-In-Air' .
Do not despair for Johnny head-in-air; he sleeps as sound as Johnny underground. Fetch out no shroud for Johnny-in-the-cloud; and keep your tears for him in after years. Better by far for Johnny-the-bright-star, to keep your head and see his children fed. [John Purdey (RAF 1941-1945)]
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