In interpreting the life of R.J. Mitchell, who designed the Spitfire plane, Leslie Howard's work ranks among his finest performances. And it is an epic picture.
In interpreting the life of R.J. Mitchell, who designed the Spitfire plane, Leslie Howard’s work ranks among his finest performances. And it is an epic picture.Film [from an original story by Henry C. James and Kay Strueby] portrays Mitchell’s heartbreaking efforts to get his series of aircraft models accepted. His work was looked upon as too revolutionary, and the reluctance of Whitehall to sponsor anything new was most discouraging. For big scenes there is the reproduction of a race for the Schneider Cup. For sweet domestic felicity there’s Rosamund John as the wife of Mitchell. For a magnificent patriotic gesture there is Toni Edgar Bruce as Lady Houston, who contributed generously to the financing of the inventor. Finally (or should it be firstly?) there’s Howard’s young airman friend in the person of David Niven, as a lovable philanderer who shares the other’s vicissitudes and glories.
The First of the Few
British Aviation. Director Leslie Howard; Producer Leslie Howard; Screenplay Miles Malleson, Anatole de Grunwald, Miles Malleson; Camera Georges Perinal; Editor Douglas Myers; Music William Walton; Art Director Paul Sheriff
(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1942. Running time: 118 MIN.
Leslie Howard David Niven Rosamund John Roland Culver Anne Firth Tonie Edgar Bruce
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