VCI Entertainment and Two Cities Films presents "THE WAY TO THE STARS" (aka: Johnny In The Clouds) (1945) (109 min/B&W) -- Starring Michael Redgrave, John Mills, Rosamund John, Douglass Montgomery, Renée Asherson, Stanley Holloway, Basil Radford,Felix Aylmer, Bonar Colleano, Joyce Carey & Trevor Howard
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. The poem is a parody on one written by Heinrich Hoffman, the title translating to `The Story of Johnny Head-In-Air".
For Johnny (this is the poem)
"Do not despair for Johnny head-in-air; he sleeps as sound as Johnny underground. Fetch out no shroud for Johnny-in-the-cloud; and keep your tears for him in after years. Better by far for Johnny-the-bright-star, to keep your head and see his children fed".
Wonderful chemistry between Rosamund John and Douglass Montgomery, who are good friends and not lovers, they are a joy to watch.
1. Anthony Asquith (Director)
Date of Birth: 9 November 1902 - London, England, UK
Date of Death: 20 February 1968 - Marylebone, London, England, UK
2. Michael Redgrave [aka: Michael Scudamore Redgrave]
Date of Birth: 20 March 1908, Bristol, England, UK
Date of Death: 21 March 1985, Denham, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
3. John Mills [aka: Lewis Ernest Watts Mills]
Date of Birth: 22 February 1908 - The Watts Naval Training College, North Elmham, Norfolk, England, UK
Date of Death: 23 April 2005 - Denham, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
4. Rosamund John [aka: Nora Rosamund Jones]
Date of Birth: 19 October 1913 - London, England, UK
Date of Death: 27 October 1998 -London, England, UK
5. Douglass Montgomery [aka: Robert Douglass Montgomery]
Date of Birth: 29 October 1907 - Los Angeles, California
Date of Death: 23 July 1966 - Norwalk, Connecticut
6. Renée Asherson [aka: Dorothy Renée Ascherson]
Date of Birth: 19 May 1915 - Kensington, London, England, UK
Date of Death: Unknown
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 109 min on DVD ~ VCI Entertainment ~ (May 03, 2011)