Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Way to the Stars, The Flying Tonight
Year: 1945
Director: Anthony Asquith
Stars: Michael Redgrave, John Mills, Rosamund John, Douglass Montgomery, Renee Asherson, Stnaley Holloway, Basil Radford, Felix Aylmer, Bonar Colleano, Joyce Carey, Trevor Howard, Nicholas Stuart, Bill Owen, Grant Miller, Jean Simmons, David Tomlinson
Genre: Drama, WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is an abandoned airfield now, but not so long ago it was bustling with life, and the drones of aircraft both friendly and antagonistic. You can pass over the runway, to the control tower with its ghosts of the past, and the quarters where the pilots lived, both British and American, to the mess and games room where you can still see evidence of those brave men who defended the world against the Nazi threat. But what were they like? Are they destined to be forgotten now their time in the war is over? What of British airman Peter Penrose (John Mills) who joined the base in 1940 and quickly made friends with fellow pilot David Archdale (Michael Redgrave)?

What happened to them? Watch this and find out - they were not real people, but did represent actual participants in the Second World War and the Battle of Britain, nobody specific, but enough of a "type" to be recognisable to the audiences of the nineteen-forties. Oddly, though, The Way to the Stars was not embraced by the British and Americans in a way that was expected; it was released as the war was coming to an end, and perhaps they did not want to be reminded of what had gone immediately before, though that does not explain the success of pictures like A Matter of Life and Death or The Best Years of Our Lives and other, equally reflective stories for the screen.

Apparently the problem was that this effort was simply too staid, too cliched, to appeal: they wanted something that was digging deeper into the life after war, or was offbeat enough to have them think about the conflict in different ways. The full extent of the Nazi atrocities was growing plain as they were widely reported on, and a movie depicting a bunch of stiff upper lip sorts and brash but respectable Yanks getting along famously just did not cut the mustard. Yet down the years since, the film was returned to by many who realised just how accurate it had been to the experience of life in Britain during the war, and it finally, belatedly, found that crucial audience.

Certainly it was very well cast, with Mills in one of his signature wartime roles as the initially inexperienced pilot, eventually an old hand at the flying game and swapping the Royal Air Force vernacular like a good 'un with his colleagues. Redgrave, too, made an impression as the man who he becomes fast friends with, as did Rosamund John as his wife, having recently given birth to a little boy they call Peter after Mills' loyal pal: they make a nice, solid partnership of the kind that Britain was based on. Yet tragedy is never far away, and that was another reason this did not catch on as wished back then: its theme was coping with death, which after all was ever-present at time of the war and director Anthony Asquith and writer Terence Rattigan were not about to neglect that uncomfortable fact.

Mind you - and here comes the plotting regarded as cliched in 1945 - you can pretty much tell which characters are going to get the elbow from life, most likely because we have become so used to military dramas where not everyone survives to the end credits. But now that is not so much of a drawback, since it conjures up a rich atmosphere of what day to day existence would have been like: we never see any combat sequences, just the bombs dropping on the airfield and the British and American planes taking off and making it back, if indeed they do. This was far more caught up in the tales of the ordinary folk, so we are invited to be invested in Penrose's reluctance to tie the knot with put upon spinster Renee Asherson whose aunt proves an impediment to goodwill of anyone around her, or American pilot Douglass Montgomery as he gets emotionally closer than he might think is wise to the people of John's nearby hotel and village. Bonar Colleano was there as well, the real breakout star of the production, and you can also spot Trevor Howard and Jean Simmons. Yes, it may be quainter than intended, but it is very evocative. Music by Nicholas Brodszky.

[Network's Blu-ray release in its The British Film line has an image gallery as an extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1527 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: