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4.6 out of 5 stars34
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 28 July 2011
It is difficult to know whether to classify Journey Together as a documentary (which is how much of it feels) or as a work of fiction, as all the faces in the film are actual servicemembers including the actors who perform the major roles. And quite a lineup: Richard Attenborough, Jack Watling, David Tomlinson, and George Cole, among others, all of whom at that time, together with the director John Boulting, were members of the RAF and during filming were still in uniform (while released in 1946, it was filmed during hostilities). The only exception to this being Edward G. Robinson, who gives a wonderful performance as their flying instructor in Arizona, who was too old at that time to serve in WW II. Produced very professionally by the RAF film unit, the film is shot mainly in authentic locations, most importantly in the aircraft themselves - the final scenes in a Lancaster on a mission to Berlin and a ditching in the English Channel giving a real sense of the cramped conditions of what this was actually like. Journey Together is not only a fascinating record of life in the RAF, but hangs together well as a story following David (Richard Attenborough) from his induction into the service through training as an aspiring pilot - an ambition at which he fails, to his ultimate fulfillment on a night mission to Berlin as navigator. One aspect that distinguishes this film from the typical "stiff upper lip" British war dramas with their more mature actors, is that here the players are all, as was the case, fresh faced youngsters (Attenborough and Watling were still only around twenty when the movie started filming). It is surprising that this film is not more well known, for it is a gem, and despite the somewhat nonchalant attitude to flak and impending disaster, a rewarding insight into the real look and feel of the Second World War.
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on 18 August 2008
Another relatively unknown world war 2 film staring David Attenborough as an aspiring pilot, who unfortunately doesn't quite make the grade and instead becomes a navigator. The film follows all the training to the ultimate first mission on a raid to Berlin.
While not a classic as such in the way of Dambusters or Angels One Five, its certainly well worthy of a place in a Black & White WW2 film library.
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on 21 April 2010
A good insight into WW2 training and spirit. Some previously unseen action film and makes a good evenings viewing for those who enjoy WW2 stories.
My hat once again goes off to the brave men of the war of ALL services.
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'Journey Together' is one of many British films made during or about WWII. Had it been released earlier in the War, it would have been regarded as propaganda and a morale booster but its release late in the proceedings has to be questioned and doubt raised about motives and purpose unless intended as a retrospective. It provides an insight into the nature of pilot training and the challenges the candidates had to face. Facilities for pilot training within the UK were very limited and most were sent to Canada or the US for initial training and sometimes for conversion to the marques used by the RAF. In reality, all pilot training was winding down by February/March 1945 as victory was then all but assured. Also, as progressively little of Germany remained under Nazi control, bombing raids were fewer and fighter protection less essential, losses fell almost to zero and future needs for pilots were minimal. Some were sent to the Far East for the war against Japan.

As with many British-made films of similar nature made during the war years it has a mainly male cast, mostly established or semi-established names of theatre or cinema and often serving (or had served) in one of the armed services, although not invariably; in this instance all were RAF personnel. Three of the better-known British stars of this were Richard Attenborough who made his name in several similar films of the period, Jack Watling whose first important role was in another war movie 'We Dive at Dawn' and David Tomlinson one of whose earlier roles was in the tongue-in-cheek wartime romp 'Pimpernel Smith'. Edward G. Robinson, best known for his many 1930s gangster movies, is a surprising and minor cameo inclusion in the cast list as is another American star from the silent era and early talkies, Bessie Love. Directed by Roy Boulting and made by the RAF Film Unit, it is now a rare oddity.

The film needs to be viewed as a product of its time and for the viewer to consider the intense pressures to secure sufficient pilots for Britain's wartime needs. As efforts increased in 1943/4 and the numbers of bombers and fighters on a sortie could reach several hundreds and occasionally exceeded 1,000, the losses of men might exceed 300 killed, wounded or captured per sortie (about 700 was the highest recorded in one day). Such levels were unsustainable long-term. Fortunately, in the War's final months air supremacy was gained and few enemy aircraft were seen or encountered so losses fell, sometimes even to zero.

This film tells the story of a number of wannabe pilots and the training they received. In reality, not all would pass and mostly for visual problems; night or colour blindness and poor 3D or height perception were relatively frequent issues. They may have failed to attain the necessary level of flying skills sufficiently quickly and they could then be retrained as navigators, wireless operators, gunners or bomb aimers.

The film shows the differences in self-consideration between those that passed their course and those who did not and who may consider themselves as failures. Where the successful candidates might be publicly admired (pilots, and especially fighter pilots, were the 'glamour boys' early in the War), those not making the grade might lose morale. However, even if they failed to make the grade as pilots, it did not mean that they could not be capable in another role and the film shows that as achievable once confidence was acquired.

The film will now be seen as dated and many of its themes will be unfamiliar to a modern audience. Curiously, its packaging describes it as a 'documentary', which was possibly how it was originally described, but it is more correctly a drama-documentary.
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on 4 February 2009
Excellent portrayal of WW2 spirit and of the training methods used. The training of RAF aircrew at training schools in the USA is not these days widely known.
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on 7 June 2015
I bought this as a family member acts in it, and was surprised to find it not only interesting, but gripping. A number of professional actors joined the RAF (including my relative) and took part in the making of this film. On looking closer, I saw that the screenplay was by Terrence Rattigan, so no wonder it was good. Okay, the brief (to explain that Navigators are just as important as Pilots) was a leetle condescending, but Rattigan made a convincing plot - and I'm still not sure if Richard Attenbrough spoke with a cockney accent in real life or not. (You can tell when actors are putting on an accent, they often lack welly, e.g. Vigo Mortison in Lord of the Rings). What was very interesting too, was seeing all the equipment - planes, pilot kit and stuff - all brand spanking new, instead of curled up and dying in a museum. Obviously they do their best, but entropy gets to us all.
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Despite its vague, easily forgettable title, Journey Together is yet another fantastic war film to have come out of wartime Britain. It is principally a tribute to the Royal Air Force. Not only is it produced by the RAF film unit, most of the cast members actually served in the RAF at the time. A notable exception is Edward G. Robinson, who is really just superb as an American flight instructor who takes charge of the film's main characters during part of their pilot training. If you've ever wondered how a guy got to serve aboard a bomber in World War II, this is your movie because it takes you through the whole training program and, in the end, into combat over the skies of Berlin.
The story follows three young servicemen as they work their way through the training program of flight school and beyond. I lost track of the third character along the way, though, because the focus is almost completely on young David Wilton (Richard Attenborough) and John Aynesworth (Jack Watling). Wilton has a young Mickey Rooney quality to him – he's boyish and excitable, and when he gets down on himself, he really goes all out. All he wants to be is a pilot, but he's lucky to get in to flight school at all. Aynesworth, meanwhile, is a natural-born pilot. Wilton knows his stuff, while Aynesworth doesn't learn all that much and even tries to cheat on his exams – I would have thought the RAF frowned on that kind of thing, but we all know they needed good pilots during World War II. The two buddies eventually make it out to Arizona to train and earn their wings (under the tutelage of an American instructor played by Edward G. Robinson). These RAF men enjoy a surprisingly personal relationship with all of their instructors up and down the line, I must say, as learning seems to be stressed over discipline. In any event, Wilton hits a brick wall in his training – he's an excellent flier, but he can't land a plane worth a diddlysquat. Landing's sort of an important part of the whole flying equation, and Wilton eventually finds himself transferred to navigation school.
Wilton wants to be a pilot, not a navigator, and he basically mopes around and doesn't pay strict attention to his studies. If his superior officers didn't go to great pains to change his outlook on life, this guy would have been booted out completely or gotten some fellow crewmen killed. Personally, with Aynesworth's cheating and Wilton's lack of commitment to navigation, I would have given both of them the boot. Navigation is incredibly important; if you're flying a bombing run deep into Germany, you sort of want to avoid the trouble spots, find and hit your target, and get home safely – which is something Wilton learns first-hand when he finally goes out on his first combat mission.
With all of this training and a distinct lack of females, this film might sound a little boring. It's not. Journey Together is blessed with some great characters you can readily identify with, and each stop along the training pathway proves to be quite interesting in and of itself. The final scenes are nothing short of gripping, as there is plenty of suspense – not to mention danger – built into Wilton's first taste of actual combat. From start to finish, Journey Together is just a terrific wartime film that gives you at least some idea of what life in the RAF was like for the heroic men who carried out the bombing raids over Germany.
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on 4 November 2012
The film itself has been reviewed elsewhere for content which is how I purchased it. My Father went through a similar training process to enter the Fleet Air Arm during the 2nd World War(ending up on HMS Victorious with Kenneth Moore).

However the quality of the film Journey Together [DVD] [1943] is the poorest of any 2nd World War film I have bought. For nearly half the film, the middle half, the sound track sounds as if one is listening to a heartbeat over the soundtrack. Very disturbing, and despite the warning at the beginning of the film about possible poor quality there was nothing mentioned on Amazon. Hence my taking the time out to write my first review!
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on 20 November 2009
The Lancaster is my favorite WWII aircraft. Unlike the SPIT, not much thrill is given to the Lancaster, but its contribution to the war was very important.
Crew training in all other war films is usually a short part in the beginning. This films shows that you don't have to be the pilot to be the ace of the crew. The navigator, bombardier and coms person are equivalent as important and vital to the success of the mission. Enjoy !
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on 31 May 2015
An interesting film covering the training of RAF aircrew before they are put into regular service. Stella cast of English and American actors who play their parts admirably, but for me the film was almost an advertisement for the RAF in its pursuit of recruits helped by a story line that did not hide the problems that RAF personnel will face on a day to day basis. For me this is one of those films for the nostalgia buffs or fans of the WW2 genre. If you fit into these categories and have not seen it, then rush to do so!
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