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Portrait of the early Heathrow Airport and Its Staff and Passengers
This is a fascinating ensemble piece, well directed by Basil Dearden, which creates a combination of personal dramas involving pilots, passengers, and airport personnel and shows how their stories cross and intermingle. Robert Beatty plays an ex-pilot who has become the head of operations at the airport, but hates being on the ground and longs to get back to his old job of flying over the Atlantic. But the doctor will not pass him. James Robertson Justice is an experienced pilot who repeatedly refuses to take off in a plane because he rightly says he hears something wrong with one of the four engines. Sid James has a bit part. There is a touching love story about two young people (played by David Knight and Margo Lorenz) who meet at the airport while waiting for their delayed planes to take off in opposite directions. The film works very well dramatically, but its chief interest today is the extraordinary portrait of Heathrow Airport as it was in the mid-1950s. In those days you could drive a car right onto the tarmac. Ah, those were the days, before everybody got up tight. Anyone interested in the history of commercial aviation needs to see this film, it is a 'must'. And it is very entertaining as well. It is not done in a semi-documentary style at all but is entirely done as a dramatic film which incorporates the details of the airport and shows how everything works.
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