Angels One Five DVD review

Stand up young man!

T.B Baird (John Gregson) is a young pilot flying for the RAF during WW2. He has seen air battles and survived a few scraps. When he is forced to ditch his Hurricane in order to miss another plane, a major problem arises. He crashes into a building and inflicts a nasty injury on himself. His squadron leader (Jack Hawkins) is less than impressed and decides to remove him from active service and stick him in the control rooms. Baird is not for these confines and tries to get back up into the big blue. He is rejected and rejected again. All until he has the ultimate chance to defend against the German bombing attack known as the battle of Britian.

War films of the early post war period are a mixed bunch. You have those that are reflecting on the horror of the war and the loss of so many lives. Others are illustrating the battle between good and evil that is so directly present and rings true. Then you have those films that are using the war as a defining point in modern history. These are predominately British and deal very much with the uniqueness of the British experience. They take the stance that this country should be proud of what it achieved in times when much was directly against them. War had cowered many and many others stood up in defense of it. Heros were average people doing extra ordinary things in the face of this. Baird is one of those guys that can be held as as a normal man doing amazing things. The film covers him in not only glory but also warmth and personality. Rare for a hero to be as normal as he is.

Flyers....Fly!

These were also constructed to deflect much of the reality of the times they were made in. Angels One Five made in 1952 was the ultimate example of this.  The British Empire had by this time crumbled into a small collection of islands and states. The major countries had moved to independance and the rejection of colonial rule. This film sings the praises of those people in the audience and does it loud and proud. The constant shots of simple farmers, workers and people clubbing together is to underline this. It reminded me of Dive Bomber, the Erroll Flynn vehicle that focuses on a sick bomber pilot who becomes a hero. That did much the same in regard to America and Europe. This film is more accurate than that, using stock footage and honest reflections. These are frank enough as they are after the event and capture the true heart of war. I liked this, which accounts for much of what I did like. It is a skill to show normal people doing normal things in times that are hard. It is also a testament to a director with a slight but graceful hand.

Happy days are up here...

Now to Studio Chanel and the restoration. They have established themselves as a formative talent in the world of cinema on DVD. They take good films and make them fly (no pun intended). This is not to say that the films are always superb in content. They do however look great. This also has little in the way of extra content bar a very good documentary on the Battle of Britian.

It is worth a watch but I still feel the best is left to come.

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