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What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.—Prime Minister William Churchill
1969 British movie, retelling the story of the Battle of Britain in 1940.
Major attempt at accuracy, sourcing a massive number of real planes (100) and cost a lot of money to make. Has some inaccuracies, using Composite Characters and over-emphasising the Spitfire's role due to lack of available Hurricanes. A number of names are fictionalised.
Has an All-Star Cast.
Contains examples of:
- Abandon Ship: Numerous men are shown bailing out of their crippled fighters and bombers through the film. Just as many are shown desperately trying to do so and failing, including one very long drawn out wide shot of a British fighter diving out of the sky trailing smoke, the pilot struggling to open his canopy, before we see the distant explosion as it hits the ground.
- Ace Pilot: To be expected in a film about aerial warfare; both sides have some of these. Colin Harvey and "Skipper" fit the stereotype best (in terms of looks and manner), but any named character with pilot's wings who isn't dead by the end of the film is at least an honourary example.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: 'Leave the flaming fighters! It's the bloody bombers we want!'
- The BBC: The BBC's radio service provides news updates throughout the film, often serving as Mr. Exposition, as well as being an Unreliable Narrator.
- Blatant Lies: A radio announcement stating that 'several RAF Aerodromes were also attacked, and some casualties were sustained, but they were light'... playing over a shot of the smouldering ruins of one of said aerodromes.
- Cool Plane: Quite a few, actually, both British and German.
- Composite Character
- The Climax: The massive aerial fight at the end.
- Crowning Music of Awesome: The Luftwaffe and the RAF both get an awesome theme. The former is notoriously hammy.
- Dogfighting Furballs: The 1969 film contains a number of large-scale dogfights, including a climatic one near the end.
- Eagle Squadron: Most notably, the Polish, Czech and Canadian pilots fighting for the Royal Air Force, but the credits include a list of different nations whose pilots fought for Britain during the titular battle.
- Fat Bastard: Göring becomes this as the film progresses - he grows Fat (which actually happened in Real Life), and becomes more and more of a Bastard towards his own subordinates as the battle's tables turn.
- Foreshadowing: Harvey meets an RAF officer who had been burned badly and is visibly put off by it. Her husband ends up caught in a burning Spitfire in the next battle sequence. He escapes, but is badly burned.
- Just Plane Wrong: There are a number of inaccuracies in that department, although they made quite an effort to avoid this as far as possible. One particularly notable instance is in sequences with groups of Hurricanes on approach Bf 109s stand in for more Hurricanes in the background, leading to the entertaining fact that they're basically heading into battle with enemies on their tail.
- There is another little fun bit of this, although very slight - The Spanish Bf 109s and He 111s used for the film were powered by Rolls Royce Merlin engines. This when added to the use of Spitfires and Hurricanes made it that the vast majority of planes in the movie - on both sides - used the same engine.
- Present Day Past: One map shows London with its post-1967 boundaries, much bigger than it was during the war. Probably an oversight by the props department.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: One of the RAF squadrons has the callsign Batman. This sounds a lot funnier/weirder now to audiences who are unaware of what a batman was in the military.
- Hysterical Woman: A female auxiliary is reduced to Inelegant Blubbering after her base is the target of Luftwaffe Air Raid, earning her a Quit Your Whining from Maggie Harvey.
Don't you yell at me, MR Warrick!
- Home Guard: Of the Torches and Pitchforks variety, showing how desparate Britain's situation is during this campaign.
- Hypocritical Humor: Group Captain Baker is in the middle of lecturing Maggie Harvey about how the practice of male and female personnel sharing the same trenches during air raid drills has got to stop. He is interrupted by the onset of a German raid on their base, and he and Maggie both dive into the nearest trench.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted. Bombers do not distinguish between gender, and a number of WRAF ground personnel are killed in raids on British bases. Not to mention the civilians, including women and children, when London is bombed.
- Mood Whiplash: Two German pilots are visiting Berlin to give a report, and we see the German civilians going on with their lives, enjoying a pleasant night in Berlin as a peaceful rendition of the Luftwaffe-Marsch... Then all of the lights cut out across the city, and air raid sirens begin wailing...
- Music to Invade Poland To: Evoked intentionally with the Luftwaffe-Marsch, composed by Ron Goodwin. Done so well that many people today believe it to be an actual German World War Two march.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Averted. The one time Hitler's voice is heard in the film, he speaks with a heavy Southern accent - the real Hitler came from Austria. That's right: they actually made an effort to portray someone who speaks a different language from the film's creators and expected audience with the correct accent.
- Seemingly played straight by Colin Harvey, who doesn't sound British at all... but if you look at his uniform carefully, it is revealed that he's actually Canadian. This is never brought up in dialogue.
- Rule 63: Believe it or not, exists. Can be found here.
- Sitting Duck: Throughout the early part of the movie, many British planes fail to get off the ground before being shot up by the Luftwaffe.
- Indeed, an early scene has an airfield in France in the midst of being abandoned. The planes that aren't able to fly out on their own are doused in gasoline so the Brits can destroy them and keep them out of German hands. The Germans just happen to show up on cue to shoot up the now highly-flammable planes.
- Stiff Upper Lip: The British (obviously).
- When one of the women under her command is Blubbering Inelegantly after a bombing raid, Maggie Harvey snaps, 'Bates! Pull yourself together!'
- Stuff Blowing Up: Both sides' aeroplanes tend to explode spectacularly when hit.
- Take Off Every Zig: Obviously. Air Vice Marshal Park frequently complains that his Zigs don't take off quickly enough.
- Tempting Fate "You know what our friend Goering said: "If ever a bomb falls on Berlin, you may call me 'Meier.'"
- Title Drop: The BBC radio announcer quoting Winston Churchill, saying "What General de Gaulle called the Battle of France is over; the Battle of Britain is about to begin". Cue the Crowning Music of Awesome.
- Translation Convention: One of the first World War Two films to avert this. The British, French, Germans and even the Poles speak their own language. The latter is actually a plot point, as problems created by the language barrier between Polish volunteers and their RAF commanders were fully Truth in Television.
- It also comes up when a Polish pilot is shot down, bails out and lands in a field - where the farmers mistake him for a German pilot because of his accent.
- War Is Hell: German and British pilots alike meet very unpleasant ends. One of the main characters is last seen trying ot bail out of a plane whlie his cockpit is engulfed in flames. We are told later that he bailed out and survived, but suffered severe burns over most of his body. The aftermath of one air raid includes a row of dead Women's Auxiliary Air Force personnel covered by a tarp. Another scene shows that a church hall full of civilians (including the family of one of the main characters) shown in a previous scene has suffered a direct hit.
- World War Two