7.1/10
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31 user 6 critic

Spitfire (1942)

The First of the Few (original title)
Aircraft designer/patriot R. J. Mitchell, alarmed at growing German militarism, works to perfect a defense against the German Messerschmidt at the cost of his health.

Director:

Leslie Howard

Writers:

Henry C. James (original story), Katherine Strueby (original story) (as Kay Strueby) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leslie Howard ... R.J. Mitchell
David Niven ... Geoffrey Crisp
Rosamund John ... Diana Mitchell
Roland Culver ... Commander Bride
Anne Firth Anne Firth ... Miss Harper
David Horne ... Mr. Higgins
J.H. Roberts ... Sir Robert McLean
Derrick De Marney ... Squadron Leader Jefferson
Rosalyn Boulter Rosalyn Boulter ... Mabel Lovesay
Herbert Cameron Herbert Cameron ... MacPherson
Toni Edgar-Bruce Toni Edgar-Bruce ... Lady Houston (as Toni Edgar Bruce)
Gordon McLeod Gordon McLeod ... Major Buchan
George Skillan George Skillan ... Mr. Royce
Erik Freund Erik Freund ... Messerschmitt
Fritz Wendhausen Fritz Wendhausen ... Von Straben (as F.R. Wendhausen)
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Storyline

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 <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Italian | German

Release Date:

14 September 1942 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Spitfire See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

British Aviation Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Black and White

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final on-screen performance of Leslie Howard. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Reginald J. Mitchell: [Approaching Mitch] Well, how are you? Oh, I see you need a proper holiday.
Reginald J. Mitchell: Do I?
Reginald J. Mitchell: [Thinking about it] Yeah, I do. Hadn't thought of that'
Reginald J. Mitchell: [Yelling to his wife inside the cottage] Diama!
Geoffrey Crisp: Look, I'm going away next week. Both of you come with me.
Reginald J. Mitchell: No. Why didn't you tell me that before?
Reginald J. Mitchell: [Calling his wife inside the cottage again] Diana! And look who's here.
Diana Mitchell: Hello, Geoff.
Geoffrey Crisp: Hello, Diana.
Reginald J. Mitchell: Here, we're going to have a holiday.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Zero Day September 15th, 1940 See more »

Connections

Featured in Leslie Howard: The Man Who Gave a Damn (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Der kleine Rekrut
(uncredited)
Music by Friedrich Wilhelm Kücken
Arranged by Roy Douglas
See more »

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User Reviews

fine swansong for Leslie Howard
21 July 2004 | by didi-5See all my reviews

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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