In Out of the Clouds there is a great chance to see how Heathrow looked in the ’50s… Michael Relph and Basil Dearden’s first class Ealing drama follows the personal tales of the pilots and passengers of a bygone age.
The film does not follow a single plot but rather interweaves a number of character driven stories that build towards their own climaxes. There’s social drama as lowly duty officer Robert Beatty tries to prevent girlfriend Eunice Gayson from falling for dastardly pilot Anthony Steel, while romance blossoms for David Knight and Ava Gardner’s old stand-in, Margo Lorenz.
Tension mounts as veteran skipper James Robertson Justice’s suspicions about the safety of a new plane prove well-founded, and Katie Johnson (best remembered as the landlady in The Ladykillers ) provides some light relief as a nervous passenger. Even Sid James gets a look-in as a disreputable gambler.
Without a central narrative, it is the terminal itself that becomes the unifying element in Out of the Clouds. Vividly recreated with the use of impressive sets and captured in Paul Beeson’s lush photography, it acts as a fascinating postcard from the golden days of air travel, when pilots’ accents were as clipped as their moustaches, hostesses’ stockings were always seamed, and in-flight entertainment consisted of a PG Wodehouse and a packet of Capstans.
UK / 1954 / Ealing
Director: Basil Dearden, Michael Relph
Writer: John Eldridge, Michael Eldridge
Cast: Anthony Steel, Robert Beatty, David Knight, Margo Lorenz, James Robertson Justice, Eunice Gayson, Isabel Dean, Sid James, Katie Johnson, Gordon Harker