United Artists at 90 Short Film Competition

Battle of Britain

Directed by Guy Hamilton

Battle of Britain (1969) broadly relates the events of the Battle of Britain, when in the summer and autumn of 1940 the British RAF inflicted a strategic defeat on the Luftwaffe and so ensured the cancellation of Operation Sealion – Hitler's plan to invade Britain. The huge strategic victory of the outnumbered British pilots would be summed up by Winston Churchill in the immortal words: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.



Through a series of vignettes mixing real figures with fictional characters, the movie documents the efforts for the RAF to prepare for and eventually engage in a monumental air campaign to defend Great Britain. Efforts to rapidly train young RAF pilots at first seem to be futile as the British, Commonwealth and Allied pilots do not have the combat experience of their Luftwaffe foes, and are decimated in large numbers. As the attackers switch from Channel raids to attacks on the RAF airfields, the Allied forces begin to recover and fight back. Eventually, “Eagle Day”, the climatic Luftwaffe operation is launched but through an inadvertent attack on London, an RAF reprisal results in Berlin being bombed. In a rage, Adolf Hitler intercedes in the air campaign and orders London to be razed. With that fateful decision, the fortunes of the Battle of Britain swing to the RAF as London takes the brunt of the German air armada's attacks.



Director

Guy Hamilton



Writers

James Kennaway

Wilfred Greatorex



Cast

Laurence Olivier … Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding

Hein Riess … Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering

Trevor Howard … Air Vice Marshal Keith Park

Robert Shaw … Squadron Leader Skipper

Christopher Plummer … Squadron Leader Colin Harvey

Michael Caine … Squadron Leader Canfield

Edward Fox … Pilot Officer Archie

Susannah York … Section Officer Maggie Harvey

Ian McShane … Sgt. Pilot Andy

Kenneth More … Group Capt. Baker

Ralph Richardson … Sir David Kelly (British minister to Switzerland)

Patrick Wymark … Air Vice Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory

Michael Redgrave … Air Vice Marshal Evill

Curt Jürgens … Baron von Richter (as Curt Jurgens)

Nigel Patrick … Group Capt. Hope



Trivia

  • The large number of aircraft collected for this production made it the 35th largest air force in the world.
  • According to the book written about the making of the movie the production crew used more ammunition (blanks of course) to film the movie - due to the fact that directors re-shoot scenes numerous times - than were actually used in the real battle.
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