This fine tribute to the heroic role played by the island of Malta during the Second World War provided Alec Guinness with the interesting role of a former archaeologist now serving as a reconnaissance pilot. He arrives in Malta in 1942, at a crucial moment for the besieged island. Desperately short of food and war materials, fighting off constant attacks from enemy bombers and unable to provide adequate air support to the allied convoys that are being cut to pieces en route to the island, Malta is resigned to imminent invasion and perhaps defeat.
Guinness falls foul of his immediate superior (Anthony Steel) and the island’s Air Force Commanding Officer (Jack Hawkins) when he disobeys an order on a flight and goes off course to photograph a suspicious-looking train. However, his action alerts them to a new development in the Italian war plans.
Guinness falls in love with young Maltese girl Muriel Pavlow and asks her mother (Flora Robson) for permission to marry. She agrees but asks him to wait until the war is over. But Pavlow’s brother turns out to be secretly working for the Italians. And finally Guinness, paving the way for the successful bombing of a large German convoy en route to North Africa, is shot down and killed…
The Malta Story is an enjoyable, if conventional, British war film of the period, straightforwardly, but often surprisingly realistically, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, who skilfully combined convincing personal dramas with the larger story of the courage and endurance of the people and defenders of Malta. Hurst was very well served by the vivid monochrome cinematography of Robert Krasker, and editor and second unit director Michael Gordon, who seamlessly interpolated actual wartime footage of attacks on convoys into the film to give it greater realism and resonance.
Cast: Alec Guinness, Anthony Steel, Muriel Pavlow, Jack Hawkins, Flora Robson, Renee Asherson, Ralph Truman, Reginald Tate, Hugh Burden
Director: Brian Desmond Hurst
Producer: Peter de Sarigny
Screenwriters: William Fairchild, Nigel Balchin
Director of Photography: Robert Krasker
Composer: William Alwyn
UK / General Film Distributors – British Film Makers / 103 minutes / 1953