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The First of the Few | 1942 | Leslie Howard, David Niven

Leslie Howard directed and starred in this slice of feelgood wartime propaganda made in 1942. The film charts the story of the design and development of the classic World War II fighter aircraft, the Supermarine Spitfire, with Howard essaying the role of the aircraft’s inventor, Reginald J Mitchell.

Needless to say, the script simplifies the story almost beyond belief and casually overlooks some of the less noble aspects of the plane’s genesis, but it’s still perfect Sunday tea-time viewing for the stiff-upper-lipped, especially with Walton’s stirring music to conjure up images of old Blighty.

cast
Leslie Howard as R.J. Mitchell
David Niven as Geoffrey Crisp
Rosamund John as Diana Mitchell
Roland Culver as Commander Bride
Anne Firth as Miss Harper
David Horne as Mr. Higgins
J. H. Roberts as Sir Robert McLean
Derrick De Marney as Squadron Leader Jefferson
Rosalyn Boulter as Mabel Lovesay
Herbert Cameron as MacPherson
Toni Edgar-Bruce as Lady Houston
Gordon McLeod as Major Buchan
George Skillan as Mr. Royce
Erik Freund as Messerschmitt
Fritz Wendhausen as Von Straben
John Chandos as Krantz
Victor Beaumont as Von Crantz
Suzanne Clair as Madeleine
Filippo Del Giudice as Bertorelli
Brefni O’Rorke as The Specialist
Gerry Wilmot as Radio Announcer
Jack Peach as Radio Announcer
Leslie Ruth Howard as American Nurse

crew
Art Direction: Paul Sheriff
Art Department Coordinator: W. Percy Day
Camera Operator: Jack Hildyard
Director Of Photography: Georges Périnal
Technical Supervisor: Sidney Cole
Director: George Pollock
Director: Leslie Howard
Editor: Douglas Myers
Production Manager: Phil C. Samuel
Producer: Leslie Howard
Production Manager: Adrian Brunel
Music: William Walton
Music: Muir Mathieson
Sound Editor: Harry Miller
Recording Supervision: John Dennis
Original Story: Henry C. James
Original Story: Katherine Strueby
Screenplay: Miles Malleson
Screenplay: Anatole De Grunwald

UK | 118 minutes | 1942

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