Films – Aviation


Dam Busters, The – Special Edition *Digitally Remastered* [DVD] [1945]
Something of a cult item among British war movies (and brilliantly spoofed a few years back by a lager ad), The Dam Busters turns a minor World War II incident into a saga of heroic stiff-upper-lippery in the classic British style. A bombing raid is proposed on a strategically vital Ruhr dam, but its position is inaccessible. Enter eccentric inventor Dr Barnes Wallis (Michael Redgrave in best daffy professor mode) who comes up with a genius idea–a bomb that will bounce on water like a skimmed pebble. Naturally the top brass pooh-pooh it, but gallant Wing Commander Guy Gibson (Richard Todd) is persuaded, and between them flyer and boffin forge ahead. The touches of carefully understated emotion now verge on self-parody, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the narrative sweep, especially when the bombers take off on their mission and Eric Coates’ stirring march hits the soundtrack.

Reach for the Sky [DVD] [1956]
Reach for the Sky was a box-office hit in 1956 and rightly remains a fondly regarded classic of British cinema. Kenneth More is ideally cast as Douglas Bader, the gifted pilot who loses both legs in a pre-war air crash, only to play a major role in the Battle of Britain, rise to the rank of Group Captain and become a war hero. Based on Paul Brickhill’s biography, this is an “official” history maybe, but Lewis Gilbert’s screenplay and direction are historically accurate and informed by that very British humour, of which More was a natural. The film is graced by a decent supporting cast and a typically “widescreen” score from John Addison.

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