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63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The father of the Spitfire in a loveable light
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...
Published on 7 July 2007 by Gisli Jokull Gislason

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First of the Few DVD
Wonderful to see this film again with its famous theme music by William Walton especially as this the 70th Anniversay of the Battle of Britain. However the enjoyment of this DVD was marred by its frequent poor quality soundtrack and picture. The film used for this DVD must have been in very poor condition. Be great if a better copy of this classic film could be found for...
Published on 11 Jun 2010 by Paul E. Tuffery


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63 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The father of the Spitfire in a loveable light, 7 July 2007
By 
Gisli Jokull Gislason "Jokull" (Iceland) - See all my reviews
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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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A WONDERFUL FILM AND A HISTORIC TREASURE, 25 July 2010
By 
Eleni - See all my reviews
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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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars First of the Few, 14 July 2009
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Whilst this is obviously a wartime propaganda flick, it is still an enjoyable if highly romanticised view of the development of the Spitfire and the life of its designer RJ Mitchell.

Nevertheless, this is still an entertaining movie that is worth buying and still bears watching 60+ years later.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Show this to the Kids, 26 Aug 2006
By 
N. D. Jervis (Germany) - See all my reviews
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The first of the few, produced in the middle of World War II pays tribute to the small team designing and building the Spitfire. The film tells a simple story about the principle character RJ Mitchell and his fight to get the Spitfire designed and built in an essentially honest and none jingoistic way. This is not a historical documentary and facts have been altered or left out. However, it is a film I would recommend to all, not just aviation buffs and it would make an ideal rainy Saturday afternoon film for Dad and the kids.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far surpasses most propaganda, 19 Jan 2004
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 18 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The First Of The Few [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
A classic movie brilliantly remasterd for Blu-Ray, a must by for any fans of the film and anyone that loves the story of the RAF
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars aka 'Spitfire', 25 July 2011
By 
J. R. Pack "julianpack" (Equatorial Guinea) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The First of The Few [DVD] (DVD)
Got this film without any expectation. At first I was nonplussed by the opening scenes and feared the worst: a wartime propaganda film, even though the William Walton score boded well. However, the shakey start is made much more understandable when one realizes that the pilots are actual veteran pilots; with this knowledge, it becomes quite a charming, if not slightly jejune, scene.

The real delight is once the story reverts to 1922 - hereon and for the bulk of the film we have excellent performances from Leslie Howard as aeroplane designer R.J. Mitchell and especially from David Niven as Geoffrey Crisp, Mitchell's old school friend and soon-to-be test pilot. Howard and Niven appear to have a very good rapport on screen and the film sparkles. The supporting cast is admirable, even a cameo by Bernard Miles. The humour is quite dry and quirky ("No Englishman likes to be called 'genius'" ... "Dreadful word" ... "Isn't it?"). Niven's banter with various actresses is amusing as are his facial expressions. After one incident in the US, the nurse that attends is actually Howard's real-life daughter.

The annual race meets are also well handled and contain what is now rare actual footage of various designs that Mitchell had worked on. The treatment of the Italians is fair. Later a trip to Germany is well-handled (Germany is not all 'bad'), though the Germans are shown to be somewhat duplicitous as hubris drives them to say too much about the thirst for power and righting the Treaty of Versailles. The whole scene is invention but gives the film its impetus - hereon, Mitchell, backed by Lady Houston, is a man with a mission: to prepare Britain for coming war.

I find the film highly watchable and rewatchable. Yes, there are inaccuracies - the squadron that Niven is in is a Hawker Hurricane one, which is quite clear in the opening scenes, but become Spitfires in the denouement. The ending is probably the most unashamedly patriotic section - "I'll get you, you swine!" kind of stuff. Well, what to do? It was 1942 and Britain was looking for ways to get the greater US public in on their side (it was 'Spitfire' in the US). The film quality is quite 'old', but I can't say it bothered me too much - just gives it a certain period feel, which is not so bad. Aside from the story, personally, I find Leslie Howard's part in it all fascinating and because of this film have been seeking out other films with him (Pygmalion, Intermezzo).

Great all-round entertainment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unlike the WWII pilots, could do better., 5 Dec 2012
By 
Jonathan Clark (Belfast, Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The First Of The Few [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I'd like to know what state the original print of this film was like if this is a "digitally remastered" version. Compared to the likes of "Great Expectations", this left me distinctly disappointed. Overall, the picture has a washed-out, faded appearance and, at some points, dirt, scratches and even the odd frame judder are visible. The sound is mono but clear enough through most of the movie.
As a fan off all classic war movies, this was always going to be a welcome addition to my library. It's obviously a propaganda picture but deals quite well with the sacrifices made by "The Few" to save our civilisation. It is a good story that warrants regular retelling.
To the restorers: This movie deserves better. Try again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story of the WW2 Spitfire and its designer, 1 May 2012
By 
Andy_atGC (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The First of The Few [DVD] (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. The plane saw several marques and sub-marques during its life which allowed better weaponry but, more vitally, much higher speeds courtesy of larger engines and the use of after-burning - a means to re-use the fuel not fully consumed when first passed through the engine. The original seaplane was capable of about 240mph but the first Spitfire achieved more than 300mph. At war end, the current types were able to exceed 450mph, very close to the speed that the early jets were able to achieve.

This covers part of the story and it was Leslie Howard's final on-screen appearance. He had recorded commentaries for two further movies which were later released, but he disappeared in a plane crash at about this time. The other star is David Niven, who was recalled from active duty to make the film. Howard has the part of the designer, Mitchell and the film was essentially a promotional movie and propaganda for the plane and the drives to collect money to build them. Several towns and cities in the UK and in the Empire collected funds and the planes were named accordingly for the town.

The plane remained in active service until the early 50s when jet aircraft finally completed the takeover from the propellor.

As a story, it stands very well. It is not really a war movie as the story mostly takes place pre-war. Many of the characters were factual as is a large part of the story, but not all. A few artistic liberties were taken, some because it was made during the War. The movie suffers a little because of its age and probably also because its production values were compromised slightly by the obvious difficulties during filming.

Had this been made 10 years later, obviously not with Leslie Howard, but at around the same time as most of the best British war films such as The Dam Busters, The Sea Shall Not Have Them, Sink The Bismark and countless others, it would have been dramatically different and probably a much better movie as a result. As it is, it is not well-known and largely forgotten.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First of the Few DVD, 11 Jun 2010
By 
Paul E. Tuffery (Cambridgeshire) - See all my reviews
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Wonderful to see this film again with its famous theme music by William Walton especially as this the 70th Anniversay of the Battle of Britain. However the enjoyment of this DVD was marred by its frequent poor quality soundtrack and picture. The film used for this DVD must have been in very poor condition. Be great if a better copy of this classic film could be found for DVD conversion or if this version could be digitally enhanced.
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The First Of The Few [Blu-ray]
The First Of The Few [Blu-ray] by Leslie Howard (Blu-ray - 2012)
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