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Aces High (1976)

PG | | Action, Drama, War | December 1977 (USA)
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In World War I, the high casualty rate amongst the rookie pilots of the Royal Flying Corps puts an enormous strain on the survivors.

Director:

Jack Gold

Writers:

Howard Barker (screenplay), R.C. Sherriff (play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Malcolm McDowell ... Gresham
Christopher Plummer ... Sinclair
Simon Ward ... Crawford
Peter Firth ... Croft
David Wood ... Thompson
John Gielgud ... Headmaster
Trevor Howard ... Silkin
Richard Johnson ... Colonel Lyle
Ray Milland ... Brigadier Whale
Christopher Blake Christopher Blake ... Roberts
Gilles Béhat Gilles Béhat ... Beckenauer (as Gilles Behat)
Elliott Cooper Elliott Cooper ... Wade
David Daker ... Bennett
Barry Jackson ... Joyce
Jacques Maury Jacques Maury ... Ponnelle
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Storyline

A naive young officer straight from school arrives on the Western front to fight the air war against the Germans. However, the life expectancy of green pilots is not very good. Written by Orde Saunders <ODS101@York.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

High above the trenches 14 days is a long life...This is the 15th day!

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | France

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

December 1977 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Aces High See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£1,250,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The melody to the song "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" is heard. It was published in 1917, the year this film is set. See more »

Goofs

Major Gressham is depicted as the leader of 76 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. That particular squadron was based in England throughout the war and never saw action in France or elsewhere. See more »

Quotes

Mess Corporal Bennett: [as the pilots set off early in the morning on a dangerous mission] How many for breakfast? Any of them?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: England October 1916 See more »

Alternate Versions

Some DVD releases feature a shorter print which reduces the French restaurant scene and misses out shots of the officers looking at a slideshow of nude photographs. These appear to have been made by the distributor, as the film has never been cut by the BBFC. See more »

Connections

Version of Journey's End (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Till The Boys Come Home
(uncredited)
Written by Ivor Novello and Lena Guilbert Ford
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"A sad story brilliantly told"
3 August 2001 | by tiomingoSee all my reviews

I remember "Aces High" when it was released in Argentina (1977. Since then I had the opportunity of watching it twice on video. For me is an excellent example that you still can produce a great film even if the subject (WWI) has been treated dozens of times. Although I have not read "Journey's End" I did read many factual accounts of the air war on the Western Front during WWI and the spirit of those terrible years has been faithfully re-created. Malcom McDowell proves, once a again, what an excellent actor he is and the rest of the cast is as good as him.

The character played by Simon Ward, is one of the most moving and important within the film. This was brought to my attention last year when, watching a documentary about the Battle of Britain, I saw a former Hurricane pilot telling how depressed he was by the terribly high casualty-rate that he decided to stop making friends,since more likely they shall be dead within a fortnight. With this in mind Simon Ward's performance has deeper meaning. It is not only that he is haunted by the idea of his inevitable death, he doesn't want to make friends because he has lost too many.

The scene where Malcom McDowell throws a party to celebrate the arrival of "his" prisoner (the German pilot)would seem strange if not ridiculous to those who do not have a certain knowledge of the mentality of the European aristocracy, who formed the backbone of the officer-class in those days. According to them war was a gentlemanly affair were certain principles should be observed; one of them was the corteous treatment of prisoners (as long as they belong the same class)particularly if they had fought bravely. The concept was already an anachronism in 1914 where the colossal scale of the slaughter and its horrendous impersonality made the illusion of "the noble duel" obsolete if not ridiculous BUT, there was the aeroplane, a chance to move the clock back to the days of aristocratic man-to-man fights, a chance to escape the modern, faceless and industrialized murder of trench warfare. That's why WWI fighter pilots (all of them gentlemen in the truest sense of the word) behaved in that way. This film is also a very sad reminder of the destruction of a whole world that, with all its defects, had some very valuable principles. Principles that nowadays most of people would laugh at, which is also very sad.


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