Saturday, January 01, 2011

Tonight's Movie: Battle of Britain (1969)

Most of the family took a break from football this afternoon to watch BATTLE OF BRITAIN...I guess nothing says New Year's Day like a war movie! It was an interesting if somewhat dry look at a critical period during World War II.

The movie might be called a "war procedural," eschewing most character development in favor of a straightforward rendering of the command decisions and aerial battles which led the undermanned British to successfully fend off the Germans in the sky, thus preventing an invasion.

Laurence Olivier plays Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, with Trevor Howard as Air Vice Marshal Keith Park. Other notable actors sprinkled throughout the cast including Christopher Plummer, Michael Caine, Ian McShane, Ralph Richardson, Kenneth More, Robert Shaw, Edward Fox, and Michael Redgrave.

The closest attempt to personalize the war is a few scenes between married couple Plummer and Susannah York. Unfortunately, York plays a highly unsympathetic character; she seems to be using the excuse of the war to make very self-centered choices without regard for her husband. What's worse is that York's hair positively screams 1960s. (Many of the other women characters have the same problem.) McShane is also seen with his family in a London Blitz sequence. Otherwise, most of the action is in the air and at headquarters.

One of the most interesting aspects for me was seeing how battle information was managed in the pre-computer era, depending on the relaying of phone, radio, and radar messages; the information was pulled together so that commanders could watch developments as tokens were moved on a giant map.

The film isn't as stirring as it could have been, but it explains the battle in a fairly clear manner and is worth the investment of time, especially for those who are interested in depcitions of WWII on film.

This movie was directed by Guy Hamilton. It runs 2 hours and 12 minutes.

BATTLE OF BRITAIN has been released on DVD and VHS.

It's also been shown on Turner Classic Movies, which has the trailer available here.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older