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The First Of The Few [Blu-ray]

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Product details

  • Actors: Leslie Howard, David Niven, Rosamund John
  • Directors: Leslie Howard
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Odeon Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 30 April 2012
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007R3RNB2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 75,212 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Filmed during the dark days of 1942, this is the immortal story of the Spitfire which had helped to win the Battle of Britain the previous year. Leslie Howard stars as R.J. Mitchell, the inventor of the Spitfire, whose aircraft designs were turned down for funding by Whitehall because they were too revolutionary. A chance meeting with Messerschmitt in the early 1930's gives Mitchell the inspiration to build Britain's fastest and deadliest fighter plane. But first he must find a devil-may-care pilot to risk his life on the test flights. Salvation comes in the form of Geoffrey Crisp (David Niven), an out of work veteran fighter pilot from the First World War. Together they build the aircraft that so many will owe their lives to. However, as Mitchell strives to perfect his fighter plane, he is rocked by the news that he has only one-year to live unless he stops working. His stark choice is to save himself or save his country.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Gisli Jokull Gislason VINE VOICE on 7 July 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
What a beautiful and gripping story about the lead designer of the Spitfire - Reginald Joseph Mitchell. It is a propaganda movie from 1942, a very troubled time for England, when England was in great need for heros and Mitchell fits the bill, an eccentric, calm, pipe smoking, public school and very amiable sort of fellow.

The story is captivating and very believable, a one mans struggle to make the perfect areoplane, then the perfect fighter. It is so good you want to believe everything is true - and even if it is riddled with historical inaccuracies - you have to remember that it is just the film that was needed at the time.

The leading actors are most loveable, David Niven is at his best and has some rather convincing drunken scenes but it is Leslie Howard of Gone with the Wind fame as Mitchell that captures the audience. This was Howards last film as an actor since he was later in a plane shot down with the Germans. David Niven continued to contribute to the war effort both in films and as a commando in the Normandy landings.

The transfer to DVD is not that great, the film is a bit worn with time but there is no serious damage, also it is in a 4:3 aspect so no wide screen expectations. But it is a nice lovable film, very well acted with plenty of human interest and more so when it was released to a nation at war with very few happy prospects and in dept to the few.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Eleni TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 July 2010
Format: DVD
This is a wonderful, biographical film about the life and work of Reginald Joseph Mitchell, the British aviation designer who created among other innovative aeroplanes the Spitfire. It tells the story of R. J. Mitchell from the time he was a dreamer who wanted to create the perfect bird-like plane until the time he created the Spitfire, working himself to death. The film has some inaccuracies and being a patriotic film it gives a slightly more heroic and romantic presentation of Mitchell's life, being very close to the truth nonetheless.

Produced, directed and performed by Leslie Howard, this film is a fine example of Howard's significant work helping the Second World War effort, that according to some theories lead to his death, when his plane was shot down by the Luftwaffe in 1943.

This film also known as "Spitfire" in the US is not only a great movie but a priceless document of aviation history. It includes rare footage of another of Mitchell's innovative planes the Supermarine S.4, and also many real life British fighter pilots make cameo appearances in the beginning of the film.

In total a fascinating film, with excellent performances by Leslie Howard as R. J. Mitchell and David Niven as test pilot Geoffrey Crisp.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andy_atGC TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 May 2012
Format: DVD
This is a somewhat fictionalised version of the story of how the Spitfire came into being.

It owed its design to aircraft intended to compete in the various air trials that became common in the between-war years from the early 1920's through to the mid-30's. The original design was for a seaplane, a type now rarely seen and which is not currently built. That the design was successful in winning the prize outright after three consecutive wins, awarded its designer R J Mitchell with wide recognition.

At that time, most light aircraft shared a popular bi-plane design where there were two stacked or slightly offset front wings. The planes tended to be wooden framed and covered with stretched, treated fabric which was stitched to the frame. The Seafire, the original version of the Spitfire was very different in that it was metal framed, with a thin metal surface which was riveted to the frame and it had a single front wing. The design was much stronger and, when the Ministry of Defence was looking for new aircraft to replace its fleet of bi-plane fighters, most of which were little different than those used during WW1, the Spitfire was born as a land-based aircraft, made slightly larger and altered to accommodate its weapons. The design was put forward and another competing design was that for the Hurricane.

Because of the fame and wide recognition of the Spitfire, it had been incorrectly credited as being responsible for success during the Battle of Britain (the Hurricane outnumbered the Spitfire by more than 2:1 in sorties during the Battle). It won wide esteem with the British public who gave up domestic utensils and equipment in the belief that they would help build the much-loved planes - very little of the metal collected was actually used, only the aluminium.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Ed Oliver on 19 Jan. 2004
Format: DVD
Although made at the height of WW2, this film is far from mere propaganda. As well as showcasing the fine acting and direction of Leslie Howard, it tells the story of a genuine hero. While the events of the film are heavily fictionalised, the basic story about RJ Mitchell's dedication to the creation of the perfect flying machine, (and then the perfect fighter aircraft) even at the expense of his health, is entirely true.
There have been many attempts to debunk the mythos surrounding the "Battle Of Britain" in recent years, largely as a result of social change. This film puts it back in context, as the struggle of a small group of individuals which helped win the war everyone fought.
As the character Crisp (David Niven), loosely based on real-life test pilot Jeffrey Quill, says at the close of the close of the film "They can't take the Spitfires Mitch, they can't take them...". The fact we all still speak English in England is a tribute to that. This film is a fine tribute to a great engineer and a great aircraft.
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