Movies

Battle Of Britain (1969, Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier)

Battle of Britain

According to Winston Churchill’s famous victory quote after the Battle of Britain, “never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. And it’s a reflection on the scale of Guy Hamilton’s epic Second World War picture that, although the real battle was fought for just over six weeks in the skies over southern England in 1940, the film version was shot over 14 months and utilised many locations in England, France and Spain. The film, which cost £12million, was extremely expensive in its day and attracted a the best of British acting talent.

LAURENCE OLIVIER stars as Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, the man who has to marshal a depleted British fighter force against incessant Luftwaffe attacks in the summer of 1940. While he’s fighting for more planes to combat the German aerial invasion, pilots such as Squadron Leaders Skipper and Harvey (ROBERT SHAW and CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, respectively) have to take the strain of daily combat, constantly staring death in the face. The film is an earnest look at the realities of war, from both sides of the divide.

Guy Hamilton was no stranger to directing action movies, having previously directed Goldfinger and subsequently three more James Bond films, and he was greatly assisted in capturing the many breathtaking aerial ‘dogfights’ between Spitfires and Stukas by Oscar-winning cinematographer Freddie Young. These action sequences were praised by the critics at the time, with Variety commenting on the battle sequences as “splendidly conceived and sweepingly dramatic,” while also citing Olivier’s “great performance” as Dowding. It summed up Battle of Britain as being “an important film on an important subject. It also provides a pretty handsome tribute to a bunch of ordinary guys who, in many cases, were heroes in spite of themselves.”

cast
Harry Andrews as Senior Civil Servant
Michael Caine as Squadron Leader Canfield
Trevor Howard as Air Vice Marshal Keith Park
Curd Jürgens as Baron von Richter
Ian McShane as Sgt. Pilot Andy
Kenneth More as Group Capt. Baker
Laurence Olivier as Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding
Nigel Patrick as Group Capt. Hope
Christopher Plummer as Squadron Leader Colin Harvey
Michael Redgrave as Air Vice Marshal Evill
Ralph Richardson as Sir David Kelly – British Minister to Switzerland
Robert Shaw as Squadron Leader Skipper
Patrick Wymark as Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory
Susannah York as Section Officer Maggie Harvey
Michael Bates as Warrant Officer Warwick

crew details
Director: Guy Hamilton
Screenplay: James Kennaway, Wilfred Greatorex

production details
Country: UK
Studio: Spitfire Productions
Year of Release: 1969
Duration: 132 minutes





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