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The Way To The Stars  [DVD]
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At the outset of the Second World War the deserted airfield of Halfpenny Field becomes a bustling bomber command centre. Peter Penrose (John Mills) is placed under the command of Squadron Leader Flight Lieutenant David Archdale (Michael Redgrave), and the two become great friends. When the Americans join the allies in 1942, several of their number are stationed at the base, and the arrival of US pilot Johnny (Douglas Montgomery) complicates the established British friendships.
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The title of the film "The Way to the Stars" is taken from the Latin motto of the RAF. The film was directed by Anthony Asquith and the screenplay was partly written by the great playwright Terence Rattigan, who was well qualified as he served as a Flight Lieutenant in the RAF during the war. It is largely based on his own experiences during that conflict. The film boasts a wonderful cast of great British actors.
The film is set largely around the fictional RAF station of Halfpenny field and the nearby village of Shepley. It is set between 1940 and 1944. John Mills plays a new young Pilot Officer just arrived at the base. He is greeted by a Flight Lieutenant played by Michael Redgrave. The more experienced Redgrave shows the inexperienced Mills the ropes. He is a quick learner and soon becomes the much respected pilot of a Bristol Blenheim. We then watch the characters lives unfold around the air base and the village. We see their loves and the human tragedy when some fail to return from their dangerous missions. We later see the Americans in their Flying Fortresses enter the fray in their ebullient and colourful manner.
Although there is very little in this film to excite the viewer who wants to see lots of action, this in no way lessens the strong impact of the film.Read more ›
However I was a bit disapointed with the quality of the DVD, the sound was good but the pictures were almost smudgy in appearance.
The acting was superb with everything so subtle and understated, which used to be so British. I loved the touching poetry which seemed to be the only acceptable way to express deep sadness, eloquently. The American service men seemed so modern in their positive go get 'em attitude. The difference in culture was palpable. I suppose since then the Brits have become more American. The wartime fears about getting too involved emotionally were sensitively portrayed by John Mills, always a fine actor. The classic moaning harridan, who started every complaint with "Now you know I never complain, but ..." was a nice cultural reference of how people were supposed to behave and that they had to excuse themselves if they did not.
Not only was this film interesting on an entertainment level with a good story and subtle characterization but also from an historical point of view, particularly from the ever-so-fashionable social historical side.
I thoroughly recomend it.
Directed by Anthony Asquith
Another winner from the British Invasion released by VCI. The film catches the sustained mood of hope and fear, punctuated by moments of terror, hilarity, panic and relief. But these are moments. The unique thing in The Way to the Stars is the sense that everyday life had to be preserved by continuing to live it.
Riveting and heroic, tragic and brave, understated, strong - very character driven. It has no battle scenes- we see only the effect of battle on the intertwined lives present on an RAF WWII air base.
There is an ensemble of emotions, but the theme concentrates on stiff upper lip stoicism as bomber aircrew are faced with terrible odds of survival, and friends and loved ones make the best of the situation.
Outstanding is Douglass Montgomery in a strong supporting performance as Johnny Hollis, from whose character the alternate title "Johnny In The Clouds" is derived. It is his best work and he is incredibly good- he should have netted an British or Oscar nomination for his performance here. He has over twenty scenes and is unforgettable in all of them.
Look for actress Jean Simmons as the singer in the Big Band at the dance celebration.
Special footnote: -- The film was obviously made as a morale booster at the end of the war in Europe and features an outstanding poem that serves as an epitaph to airmen killed in action.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A thrilling picture from start to finish. Also - great acting.Published 6 months ago by charles.s.godfrey
a Wonderful love story at atme of great hardship, actors and actresses like these arnt around any morePublished 6 months ago by dereck brodie
5 stars as this is one of my mother-in-laws favourites! 😋Published 10 months ago by Dr. Stanley Ooi
Although a bit soppy in places the sentiment say everything about war. Brilliantly acted and yet another superb British WW2 film.Published 10 months ago by Duncan Ferguson