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.”
UK / Spitfire Productions / 132 minutes / 1969
Director: Guy Hamilton
Screenplay: James Kennaway, Wilfred Greatorex
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
and this just in
Fargo (1995, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi)
‘The Coens have never achieved such balance in their work before, have never been able to so coherently harness and...
U-Turn (1997, Sean Penn, Nick Nolte)
In U-Turn Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) is stranded after his car dies in the desert and he heads for the...
Gift Horse, The (1952, Trevor Howard, Richard Attenborough)
Described by The News of the World as ‘a great and stirring British war film’, The Gift Horse follows a...
Way Ahead, The (1944, David Niven, Stanley Holloway)
Classic British war film The Way Ahead was inspired by the 40-minute army training film The New Lot directed in...
Gunman’s Walk (1958, Van Heflin, Tab Hunter)
Gunman’s Walk is a superior western family saga starring Van Heflin. The ageing star puts in a rock-hard performance as...
How to Get Away with Murder: Your Funeral (Season 5 Premiere ABC 27 Sep 2018)
Your Funeral: In the season five premiere episode, “Your Funeral,” Annalise selects students for her new legal clinic at Middleton...
How to Get Away with Murder: Whose Blood Is That? (S5EP2 4 Oct 2018)
Whose Blood Is That?: Annalise preps to defend her first class action plaintiff and adjusts to the politics of the...
Grey’s Anatomy: With a Wonder and a Wild Desire, Broken Together (Season 15 Premiere ABC 27 Sep 2018)
With a Wonder and a Wild Desire and Broken Together: Two-hour season premiere and a new position is up for...
Prince And The Pauper, The (1977, Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch)
Sumptuous re-telling of the classic tale The Prince And The Pauper featuring an all-star cast. Young Tom Canty is a...
Hans Christian Anderson (Samuel Goldwyn 1952, Danny Kaye)
Tuneful and enjoyable film loosely based on the life of maestro fairy-tale teller Hans Christian Andersen, starring Danny Kaye in...
This Happy Breed (1944, Robert Newton, John Mills)
Taken from Noel Coward’s popular and charming stage play of the same name, This Happy Breed looks at the way...