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.
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
- 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.