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Battle of Britain

American release poster
Directed by Guy Hamilton
Produced by Harry Saltzman
S. Benjamin Fisz
Written by James Kennaway
Wilfred Greatorex
Starring Laurence Olivier
Hein Riess
Trevor Howard
Robert Shaw
Christopher Plummer
Michael Caine
Edward Fox
Susannah York
Ian McShane
Kenneth More
Ralph Richardson
Patrick Wymark
Michael Redgrave
Curt Jürgens
Nigel Patrick
Music by Ron Goodwin
William Walton
Cinematography Freddie Young
Editing by Bert Bates
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) 15 September 1969 (UK)
Running time 133 minutes
Country UK
Language English
German
Polish
French
Budget $12,000,000
For the 1943 Frank Capra documentary, see The Battle of Britain.

Battle of Britain is a 1969 Technicolor film directed by Guy Hamilton, and produced by Harry Saltzman and S. Benjamin Fisz. The film broadly relates the events of the Battle of Britain. The script by James Kennaway and Wilfred Greatorex was based on the book The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster.

The film endeavoured to be an accurate account of the Battle of Britain, when in the summer and autumn of 1940 the British RAF inflicted a strategic defeat on the Luftwaffe and so ensured the cancellation of Operation Sealion - Hitler's plan to invade Britain. The huge strategic victory of the outnumbered British pilots would be summed up by Winston Churchill in the immortal words: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".

The film is notable for its spectacular flying sequences, echoing those seen in Angels One Five (1952) but on a far grander scale than had been seen on film before; these made the film's production very expensive. It is shown regularly on British television.

Contents

Plot

The film opens with the Battle of France in May 1940 as RAF pilots flee the German Blitzkrieg. RAF Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding (Laurence Olivier), realising that an imminent invasion of Great Britain will require every available aircraft and airman to counter it, stops additional aircraft being deployed to France so that they are available to defend Britain. In neutral Switzerland, the German ambassador (Curt Jurgens) officially proposes new peace terms to his British counterpart (Ralph Richardson), stating that continuing to fight the "masters" of Europe is hopeless. The Briton replies that his country will fight to the end, but privately admits to his wife that the German is very likely correct.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declares the end of the fight in France and the start of the Battle of Britain. The Germans have decided that for an invasion to be successful it will be necessary to wipe out Britain's air capability. Thus the campaign begins with the Luftwaffe launching an early morning assault, the plan being to destroy the RAF on the ground before they have time to launch their Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane fighters.

The Luftwaffe are given the order to attack British radar installations and airfields, resulting in high casualties and the destruction of hangars and material. Taken by surprise, the British, Commonwealth and Allied pilots fight back but many of them lack combat experience and are killed in large numbers.

As the raids continue over the next few weeks the RAF starts to employ Free Polish and other forces from German-occupied countries. There is some initial reluctance due to the language barriers, but the non-English speakers soon prove their worth.

The real turning point, however, comes when a small, inadvertent attack on London causes the RAF to bomb Berlin in retaliation. German leader Adolf Hitler orders London to be razed as revenge. London takes the brunt of the German air armada's attacks, but this gives the RAF the time they need to rebuild their airfields and installations such as the radar picket stations thus allowing the besieged pilots to build up their strength and fight back.

On the German side the increasing number of casualties leads to a fall in morale. The RAF and its Spitfires are proving more of a challenge than was first expected. A naval invasion of the British Isles is finally called off.

The film ends with the campaign drawing to a close at the end of 1940 and Churchill's declaration about the "Few" and their role in saving Britain from invasion.

Cast

The film has a large all-star international cast. It was notable for its time for the portrayal of the Germans by subtitled German-speaking actors.

Commonwealth

German

  • Curt Jürgens as Baron von Richter (actually Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop had been Ambassador to Great Britain 1936-38. When Ralph Richardson as the British Ambassador in Switzerland argues with von Richter over Hitler's appeal to reason, Richardson tells von Richter that von Richter's years in England had left him none the wiser.
  • Hein Riess as Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, the Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe [1]
  • Manfred Reddemann as the cigar-chomping Major Falke, a role inspired by wartime Luftwaffe ace Adolf Galland, who at the age of 30 was to become the youngest man to hold the rank of general in the Luftwaffe. One scene in the film is said to have been based on a meeting between Galland and Göring: when Göring asks Falke what he needs, Falke (like Galland) answers: "a squadron of Spitfires!"
  • Wilfried von Aacken as Gen. Osterkamp
  • Karl-Otto Alberty as Gen. Jeschonnek (Luftwaffe chief of staff) (as Karl Otto Alberty)
  • Helmut Kircher as Boehm
  • Alexander Allerson as Major Brandt
  • Paul Neuhaus as Major Föehn
  • Dietrich Frauboes as Field Marshal Milch (Inspector General, Luftwaffe)
  • Malte Petzel as Colonel Beppo Schmidt (Luftwaffe Intelligence)
  • Alf Jungermann as Brandt's navigator
  • Peter Hager as Field Marshal Albert Kesselring
  • Wolf Harnisch as General Fink (as Wolf Harnish)
  • Rolf Stiefel as Adolf Hitler

Production

RAF pilots "scramble" in the midst of an airfield attack (screenshot)

The film required a large number of period aircraft. In September 1965 producers Harry Saltzman and S. Benjamin Fisz contacted former RAF Bomber Command Group Captain Hamish Mahaddie to find the aircraft and arrange their use.[2] Eventually 100 aircraft were employed, called the "35th largest air force in the world".[3] With Mahaddie's help, the producers located 109 Spitfires in the UK, of which 27 were available although only 12 could be made flyable. Mahaddie negotiated use of six Hawker Hurricanes, of which three were flying.[4] The film helped preserve these aircraft, including a rare Spitfire Mk II which had been a gate guardian at RAF Colerne.[2]

During the actual aerial conflict, all RAF Spitfires were Mark I and II.[5] However, only one Mk Ia and one Mk IIa (the latter with a Battle of Britain combat record) could be made airworthy, so the producers have to use seven other different marks, all of them being post BoB. To achieve commonality, the production made some standardised modifications to the Spitfires, including elliptical wingtips, period canopies and other changes. To classic-aircraft fans, they became known as "Mark Haddies" (a play on Grp. Capt. Mahaddie's name).[2] A pair of two-seat trainer Spitfires were camera platforms to achieve realistic aerial footage inside the battle scenes.[6] A rare Hawker Hurricane XII had been restored by Canadian Bob Diemert, who flew the aircraft in the film. Eight non-flying Spitfires and two Hurricanes were set dressing, with one Hurricane able to taxi.[7]

A North American B-25 Mitchell N6578D, flown by pilots John 'Jeff' Hawke and Duane Egli, was the primary aerial platform for aviation sequences. It was painted garishly for line-up references[3] and to make it easier for pilots to determine which way it was manoeuvring. When the brightly-coloured aircraft arrived at Tablada airbase in Spain in early afternoon of 18 March 1968, the comment from Derek Cracknell, the assistant director, was "It's a bloody great psychedelic monster!". The aircraft was henceforth dubbed the Psychedelic Monster.[8]

The Luftwaffe armada included 32 real aircraft. (screenshot)

For the German aircraft, the producers assembled 32 CASA 2.111 twin-engined bombers, a Spanish-built version of the German Heinkel He 111H-16. They also found 27 Hispano Aviación HA-1112 M1L 'Buchon' single-engined fighters, a Spanish version of the German Messerschmitt Bf 109. The Buchons were altered to look more like correct Bf 109Es, adding mock machine guns and cannon, redundant tailplane struts, and removing the rounded wingtips.[9] The Spanish aircraft were powered by British Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, and thus almost all the aircraft used, British and German alike, were Merlin-powered. After the film, one HA-1112 was donated to the German Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr, and converted to a Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2 variant, depicting the insignias of German ace Gustav Rödel.

Although visually a look-alike, the HA-1112 M1L Buchon had been a later derivative of the wartime Messerschmitt Bf 109.

To recreate Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers, the film company converted two Percival Proctor training aircraft into half-scale Stukas, with a cranked wing, as "Proctukas".[3] To duplicate the steep dive of Ju 87 attacks, large models flown by radio control were used.[3] Radio-controlled Heinkel He 111 models were also built and flown to depict bombers being destroyed over the English Channel. When reviewing the footage of the first crash, the producers noticed a trailing-wire antenna; this was explained by an added cutaway in which the control wires of a Heinkel are seen shot loose.

Two Heinkels and the 17 flyable Messerschmitts (including one dual-controlled HA-1112-M4L two-seater, used for conversion training and as a camera ship), were flown to England to complete the shoot.[3] In the scene where the Polish training squadron breaks off to attack, ("Repeat, please"), the three most distant Hurricanes were Buchons marked as Hurricanes, as there were not enough flyable Hurricanes. In addition to the combat aircraft, two Spanish-built Junkers Ju 52 transports were used.

Use of RAF bases including Duxford lent an air of authenticity.

Filming in England was at Duxford, Debden, North Weald and Hawkinge, all operational stations in 1940 — one surviving Second World War hangar at Duxford was blown up and demolished for the Eagle Day sequence. Some filming also took place at Bovingdon, a former wartime bomber base.

Poor weather beset filming in the UK; to reflect the cloudless skies of summer of 1940, many upward-facing shots were filmed over Spain, while downward-facing shots were almost all below the clouds, over southern England, where farmland is distinctive. However 1940 camouflage made it difficult to see the aircraft against the ground and sky, so a cloud background was used where possible. Only one Spitfire was relocated to Spain to stand in for the RAF defenders.[3]

Another early scene was the Dunkirk recreation which shot at the beachfront at Huelva, Spain. Only later did the directors find out this was where The Man Who Never Was deception had been carried out, in which the Germans were deceived by counterfeit documents purporting that the Allies were to invade Sardinia rather than Sicily, planted on a drowned man dressed as Royal Marines "Major Martin", allowed to wash up on the beach in 1943.[10]

London in flames

Location filming in London was carried out mainly in the St Katharine Docks area where older houses were being demolished for housing estates. Partly demolished buildings represented bombed houses and disused buildings were set on fire. St Katharine Docks was one of the few areas of London's East End to survive The Blitz. Many extras were survivors of the Blitz. Aldwych tube station, used as a wartime air-raid shelter, was also used as a filming location. Almost all the period equipment from the London Fire Brigade Museum was used in the film. The night scenes of wartime Berlin were filmed in San Sebastian, Spain.

The scenes at RAF Fighter Command were filmed at RAF Bentley Priory, the headquarters of Fighter Command. Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding's original office, with the original furniture, was used.

Historical accuracy

The film is generally faithful to events and although merging some characters, it sticks to the orthodox view — that the Germans threw away tactical advantage by switching bombing from RAF airfields to London in revenge for RAF raids on Berlin. Some later scholarship has cast doubt on one or another aspect of the orthodox view, arguing either: (a) that the switch to bombing London was made not for reasons of revenge but because the Germans thought they had already defeated RAF Fighter Command, or (b) that accelerated British aircraft production meant that the prospect of a German victory was never likely (this view seems doubtful, however, in part because the key issue was the number of available pilots).[11]

The film includes a sequence which relates the events of 15 August 1940, on which the Luftwaffe attempted to overwhelm fighter defences by simultaneous attacks on northern and southern England. The northern attack came over the North Sea from Norway and consisted of Heinkel He 111 bombers escorted by Messerschmitt Bf 110 long-range escort fighters.[12] The actual attack force was intercepted by Spitfires of No. 72 Squadron RAF and suffered heavy losses, prompting the Luftwaffe to abandon daylight raids from Norway. The film's producers did not have access to real or replica Bf 110 aircraft, and the Heinkels are described as unescorted, the Luftwaffe reasoning that "even a Spitfire can't be in two places at once."

The Robert Shaw character "Squadron Leader Skipper" is based loosely on Squadron Leader Sailor Malan, a South African fighter ace and No. 74 Squadron RAF commander during the Battle of Britain. The scene in the operation centre in which the British listen to their fighters' wireless transmissions is for dramatic reasons only. In reality, the operations centre received information by telephone from the sector airfields. The scenes at the end, where the RAF pilots are seen suddenly idle and left awaiting the return of the Luftwaffe raids are more license; the fighting fizzled out through late September, although daylight raids continued for some weeks after the 15 September engagement. 31 October is regarded as the official end on the British side.

The confrontation between Dowding and Keith Park, on one side, and Trafford Leigh-Mallory on the other is fictitious, though there were undoubted tensions between the two sides. The film doesn't mention that, following the Battle of Britain, Dowding and Park were replaced by Sholto Douglas and Leigh-Mallory, despite Dowding and Park having demonstrated that Leigh-Mallory's "Big Wing" theories were unworkable.[13]

One omission is at the end of the film, when casualties are listed. The film does not mention losses by Corpo Aereo Italiano, an Italian expeditionary force that took part, nor is it not mentioned during the film. One anomalous entry in the list of pilots who served with the RAF is a pilot described by the credits as Israeli, although the state of Israel was only created in 1948.

There was no attempt to recreate tracer rounds.

Göring's train in the film is Spanish rather than French (the RENFE markings are just visible on its tender), and the steam locomotive shown did not come into service on Spanish National Railways (RENFE) until 1951.

The role of Falke was inspired by Adolf Galland, a famous ace during the Second World War, who did ask the Reichmarshall Göring for "an outfit of Spitfires for my squadron". Galland, however explained in his autobiography that his request was only a way to upset Göring, because he was "unbelievably vexed at the lack of understanding and stubbornness with the command (i.e. Göring) gave us orders we could not execute". Personally, Galland did feel that the Spitfire was more manoeuvrable than the Bf 109, which he felt made it more suitable as a defensive fighter, but he also states that "fundamentally I preferred the ME-109." [14]

During filming, Galland, who was acting as a German technical advisor, took exception to a scene where Kesselring is shown giving the Nazi salute, rather than the standard military salute. Journalist Leonard Mosley witnessed Galland spoiling the shooting and having to be escorted off the set. Galland subsequently threatened to withdraw from the production, warning "dire consequences for the film if the scene stayed in."[15] However, when the finished scene was screened before Galland and his lawyer, he was persuaded to accept the scene after all.[16]

Quotes

  • Boys spotting approaching German raiders:
Boy 1:"Messerschmitts!"
Boy 2:"'Einkels!"
Boy 1:"Messerschmitts!"
Boy 2:"No they ain't, they're 'Einkels!"
  • The British Ambassador's response to a German ultimatum:
"We're not easily frightened. Also we know how hard it is for an army to cross the Channel — the last little corporal to try it came a cropper. So don't threaten or dictate to us until you're marching up Whitehall! ...and even then we won't listen!"
  • The Ambassador's coda (to his wife): "It's unforgivable. I lost my temper."
  • When troubled English pilot, "Simon," returns to land, he is forced to do a "go-around" because he had failed to put down his landing gear. Two of the more experienced pilots launch into an evidently familiar routine:
Sergeant Pilot Andy: "You can teach..."
Pilot Officer Archie joins in: "...monkeys to fly better than that!"
  • A group of German prisoners have been brought to a bombed airfield:
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Corporal? Where are you taking those vultures?"
RAF Police NCO: "Officers to the mess, NCOs to the guard room, Sir."
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Like hell you are. They're responsible for all that (turning and gesturing to the ruined field), get 'em to clear it up!"
Police NCO: "But, what about the officers, Sir?"
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Give 'em a bloody shovel!"
  • Leigh-Mallory and Park, in Dowding's office:
Leigh-Mallory: "It's better to shoot down fifty bombers after they hit their targets than ten before."
Park: "Remember that the targets are my airfields, Leigh-Mallory, and you're not getting fifty, you're not even getting ten!"
  • Sergeant Pilot Andy, having been shot down in combat, appears in the doorway of the hangar.
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Where the 'ell have you been?"
Sergeant Pilot Andy: "Learning to swim."
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Did you get him?"
Sergeant Pilot Andy: "All I got was a bellyful of English Channel."
  • Summoned to Berlin to be disciplined for accidentally bombing London, Major Brandt and his navigator drive through the brightly lit city. (Dialogue is in German, text given is that of the English subtitles.)
Navigator: "Haven't they heard of a blackout?"
Brandt: "You heard what Göring said — 'If one enemy bomb falls on Berlin, you can call me Meier'".[17]
Street lights suddenly go out, air-raid sirens sound and there is panic in the streets. Searchlights sweep the sky as anti-aircraft guns begin firing. Brandt and his navigator get out of their car and look up at the sky.
Navigator: "You may call me Meier..."
  • Göring, gazing with pride at a huge fleet of German aircraft heading for England:
"If we lose the war now, they'll tear our arses asunder!." (Dialogue is in German, text given is that of the English subtitles; a literal translation would end '...they'll tear our arses open!').
  • After the airfield bombing raid, Warrant Officer Warrick, a typically aggressive senior non-commissioned officer but junior in rank to Section Officer Harvey, shouts an order to her from a distance:
Warrick: "Put that cigarette out! The mains have gone. Can't you smell gas?"
Harvey (pausing two beats), screams back: "Don't you yell at me, Mr. Warrick!"
  • Being told by the Air Minister that the Americans are having trouble believing the pilot's claims of numbers of German aircraft shot down, Dowding pauses and then replies, "Minister, I'm not much interested in propaganda. If we're right, they'll give up. If we're wrong, they'll be in London in a week!" The reply, inaudible to the audience, causes Dowding to very subtly flinch, before he hangs up without further word.
  • Late in the battle, when the Germans are taking terrible losses, Göring chastises a group of high-ranking Luftwaffe officers for cowardice. Relenting, he turns to two front line fighter squadron commanders and asks, "Is there is anything you want? Föehn? Falke?" Major Falke replies, "Yes, sir, a squadron of Spitfires.", wiping the smile off Göring's face. [18]

Musical score

As recounted in Mervyn Cooke’s A History of Film Music (2008), the film has two musical scores. The first was written by Sir William Walton, and conducted by Malcolm Arnold. However, the music department at United Artists objected that the score was too short. As a result, a further score was commissioned from Ron Goodwin. Producer S. Benjamin Fisz and actor Sir Laurence Olivier protested this decision, and Olivier threatened to take his name from the credits. In the end, one segment of the Walton score, titled The Battle in the Air, which framed the climactic air battles of 15 September 1940, was retained in the final cut. The Walton score was played with no sound effects of aircraft motors or gunfire, giving this sequence a transcendent, lyrical quality.

Prime Minister Edward Heath retrieved Walton’s manuscript from United Artists in 1972, presenting it to the composer at Walton’s 70th birthday party held at 10 Downing Street. Tapes of the Walton score were believed lost forever until being rediscovered in 1990 from the sound mixer’s garage. Since then the score has been restored and released on compact disc. The option to watch the film with the complete Walton score was included on the Region 2 Special Edition DVD of the film, which was released in June 2004.

Very little attention has been paid to the comparative quality of the scores produced for the film. Walton's music was composed with considerable help from Malcolm Arnold, who was responsible for producing the orchestrations. Aside from the undoubted originality and impact of 'The Battle in the Air' sequence, much of Walton's score is derivative, including references to Wagner's 'Siegfried', and a main march which follows a well-worn template: Walton himself admitted that he had basically revamped his 'Orb and Sceptre' march several times over.

By contrast, Ron Goodwin's score, which has always been regarded as a poor relation, encapsulates the atmosphere of the film perfectly: For the opening theme, Goodwin composed the Aces High March in the style of a traditional German military march in 2/4 time. The march places heavy emphasis on the "oom-pah" sound of tubas and lower-pitched horns on the first and second beats and has the glockenspiel double the horns in the melody. Because of the great length of this sequence, which shows a Luftwaffe general's inspection of a Heinkel squadron in occupied France, the Aces High has three separate bridges between choruses of the main theme, one of which recurs several times in a gently sentimental variation. Despite its origin in a representation of a tyrannical threat to democracy, the march has become a popular British patriotic tune, like the Dambusters March, and is frequently played at military parades and air shows. American radio personality and convicted Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy has used the march as bumper music on his syndicated radio program.

The remainder of the score is distinctive in its careful underpinning of the visual action and musical characterisation of the opposing sides, each of which is retains its own thematic material.

Influence

Both a hardcover and paperback book on the making of the movie were published in 1969.

The use of actual aircraft in flying sequences has led to a number of subsequent productions utilising stock footage derived from the Battle of Britain:

  • The scene of a damaged Heinkel bomber emitting smoke and losing altitude was used in the Adolf Hitler: My Part in his Downfall (1972).
  • Short clips from the main "Battle in the air" sequence were used in the Baa Baa Black Sheep television series (1976–1978).
  • A fragment of the soundtrack of one of the dogfights is used on the album The Wall (1979) by Pink Floyd, right at the start of the track "Vera".
  • Footage of Bf-109s exploding and crashing into the English Channel was inserted into the opening "Skeet Surfing" music video in the parody film Top Secret! (1984).
  • "Newsreel" footage shown in the cinema in the film Hope and Glory (film) (1987) was air combat footage from the Battle of Britain.
  • Some of the Stuka footage was re-used in the BBC drama series No Bananas (1996).
  • Footage from the film was incorporated in the Czech film Dark Blue World (2001).
  • Much aerial footage was cut into the USA film Midway (1976) where Spitfires and Hurricanes were masquerading as F2A Buffaloes and F4F Wildcats.
  • A shot of the attacking bomber formation inexplicably breaking up in the final scene of the German film Das Boot (1981) is from a sequence in Battle of Britain.

A summer 2008 episode of the BBC show Top Gear featured numerous references to the movie during a contest featuring the hosts of the respective British and German car shows. References included the BBC show's three presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond each arriving in Spitfires with the movie score accompaniment and Clarkson quoting from the movie, "We're on our own, we're playing for time and it's running out!"

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ According to a booklet publicising the movie, Riess had allegedly once met Göring himself during the war. Galland himself acted as a technical adviser for the movie.
  2. ^ a b c Hankin 1968, p. 48.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Hankin 1968, p. 49.
  4. ^ Schnepf 1970, p. 25.
  5. ^ Spitfire Mk I
  6. ^ Schnepf 1970, p. 45.
  7. ^ MacCarron 1999, p. 80.
  8. ^ Mosley 1969, p. 75.
  9. ^ Crump 2007, p. 73.
  10. ^ Mosley 1969, p. 56.
  11. ^ Robinson 1987, p. 19.
  12. ^ "Thursday, 15th August 1940 D348." NE-Diary 1939–1945. Retrieved: 18 April 2009.
  13. ^ Deighton, Len. Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain. New York: Ballantine Books, 1979. ISBN 0-06-100802-8.
  14. ^ Galland 2005, pp. 28–29.
  15. ^ Mosley 1969, p. 105.
  16. ^ Mosley 1969, pp. 122–123.
  17. ^ "Meier" [Meierei= (German) dairy-farm] is a common German Jewish surname and was used by Göring as a term of derision.
  18. ^ Mosley 1969, pp. 98–105. Note: A lengthy passage in the behind-the-scenes book explains the interaction of Galland and Göring, and how Galland wished to preserve the historical accuracy concerning the confrontation with Göring depicted in the film.
Bibliography
  • Cooke, Mervyn. A History of Film Music. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0521010481.
  • Crump, Bill. "Bandits on Film." FlyPast October 2007.
  • Galland, Adolf. Die Ersten und die Letzten (The First and the Last) (in German). Munich: Franz Schneekluth-Verlag Darmstadt, First edition, 1953. ISBN: 978-2905643001.
  • Galland, Adolf. The First and the Last: Germany's Fighter Force in WWII (Fortunes of War). South Miami, Florida: Cerberus Press, 2005. ISBN 1-84145-020-0.
  • Hankin, Raymond. "Filming the Battle." Flying Review International, Vol. 24, no. 2, October 1968.
  • MacCarron, Donald. "Mahaddie's Air Force." FlyPast September 1999.
  • Mosley, Leonard. Battle of Britain: The Story of a Film. London: Pan Books, 1969. ISBN 0-330-02357-8.
  • Robinson, Anthony. RAF Squadrons in the Battle of Britain. London: Arms and Armour Press Ltd., 1987 (republished 1999 by Brockhampton Press). ISBN 1-86019-907-0.
  • Schnepf, Ed, ed. "The Few: Making the Battle of Britain." Air Classics Vol. 6, No. 4, April 1970.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Battle of Britain is a 1969 war film portraying the historic Battle of Britain, when in the summer and autumn of 1940 the British RAF inflicted a strategic defeat on the Luftwaffe, forestalling Hitler's plan to invade Britain.

Directed by Guy Hamilton. Written by James Kennaway and Wilfred Greatorex.

Memorable quotes

  • Boys spotting approaching German raiders:
Boy 1:"Messerschmitts!"
Boy 2:"'Einkels!"
Boy 1:"Messerschmitts!"
Boy 2:"No they ain't, they're 'Einkels!"
  • The British Ambassador's response to a German ultimatum:
"We're not easily frightened. Also we know how hard it is for an army to cross the Channel — the last little corporal to try it came a cropper. So don't threaten or dictate to us until you're marching up Whitehall! ...and even then we won't listen!"
  • The Ambassador's coda (to his wife): "It's unforgivable. I lost my temper."
  • When troubled English pilot, "Simon," returns to land, he is forced to do a "go-around" because he had failed to put down his landing gear. Two of the more experienced pilots launch into an evidently familiar routine:
Sergeant Pilot Andy : "You can teach..."
Pilot Officer Archie joins in: "...monkeys to fly better than that!"
  • A group of German prisoners have been brought to a bombed airfield:
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Where are you taking those vultures?"
RAF NCO: "Officers to the mess, NCOs to the guard room, Sir."
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Like hell you are. They're responsible for all that (turning and gesturing to the ruined field), get 'em to clear it up!"
NCO: "But, what about the officers, Sir?"
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Give them a bloody shovel!"
  • Leigh-Mallory and Park, in Dowding's office:
Leigh-Mallory: "It's better to shoot down fifty bombers after they hit their targets than ten before."
Park: "Remember that the targets are my airfields, Leigh-Mallory, and you're not getting fifty, you're not even getting ten!"
  • Sergeant Pilot Andy, having been shot down in combat, appears in the doorway of the hangar.
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Where the 'ell have you been?"
Sergeant Pilot Andy: "Learning to swim."
Squadron Leader Skipper: "Did you get him?"
Sergeant Pilot Andy: "All I got was a bellyful of English Channel."
  • Summoned to Berlin to be disciplined for accidentally bombing London, Major Brandt and his navigator drive through the brightly lit city. (Dialogue is in German, text given is that of the English subtitles.)
Navigator: "Haven't they heard of a blackout?"
Brandt: "You heard what Göring said — 'If one enemy bomb falls on Berlin, you can call me Meier'".[1]
Street lights suddenly go out, air-raid sirens sound and there is panic in the streets. Searchlights sweep the sky as anti-aircraft guns begin firing. Brandt and his navigator get out of their car and look up at the sky.
Navigator: "You may call me Meier..."
  • Göring, gazing with pride at a huge fleet of German aircraft heading for England:
"If we lose the war now, they'll tear our arses asunder!." (Dialogue is in German, text given is that of the English subtitles; a literal translation would end '...they'll tear our arses out!').
  • After the airfield bombing raid, Warrant Officer Warwick, a typically aggressive senior non-commissioned officer but junior in rank to Section Officer Harvey, shouts an order to her from a distance:
Warwick: "Put that cigarette out! The mains have gone, Can't you smell gas?"
Harvey (pausing two beats), screams back: "Don't you yell at me, Mr. Warwick!"

References

  1. ("Meier" [Meierei= (German) dairy-farm] is a common German Jewish surname and was used by Göring as a term of derision.
  • Mosley, Leonard. Battle of Britain: The Story of a Film. London: Pan Books, 1969. ISBN 0-330-02357-8.
  • Schnepf, Ed, ed. "The Few: Making the Battle of Britain." Air Classics Vol. 6, No. 4, April 1970.







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