The Rank Collection: British War Collection [4 Discs] [DVD]
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Overview

Synopsis

The Way to the Stars
Originally released in England as The Way to the Stars, Johnny in the Clouds is the story of how the Battle of Britain affected the lives of combatants and civilians alike. Terence Rattigan's screenplay concentrates on three groups of people: an American pilot and his wife, a doomed British officer with a wife and child, and a young couple who plan to marry despite the precariousness of wartime romances. Most of the action takes place at an air base and the neighboring village, where the private citizens react to rationing and other restrictions with various degrees of nobility and selfishness. The American title of this film is derived from the poem "Johnny in the Clouds," recited in tribute to the decease British airman; the U.S. version, which was released after the war, includes a prologue set in the deserted air base, with the bulk of the film offered as a flashback. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Desert Patrol
Sea of Sand was distributed in the US in a shortened version, Desert Patrol. John Gregson plays Captain Williams, a martinet mine expert who vows to whip a lackadaisacal patrol into shape. This brings Williams in conflict with patrol leader Captain Cotton (Michael Craig), but also earns him the respect of hard-bitten trooper Brody (Richard Attenborough). The wisdom of Williams' no-nonsense approach is demonstrated when the patrol is besieged by the highly disciplined members of the German Afrika Korps. The film was produced by Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman, best known to American TV viewers as the creative forces behind the weekly series The Saint. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Above Us the Waves
Judging by the number of times it has shown up on TV, Above Us the Waves may be American viewers' favorite British war film. Most of the film is set in a British midget submarine, commandeered by John Mills. The sub's mission (together with its "fellow" vessels) is to sink the German battleship Tirpitz. This will be accomplished by the midget sub fleet sneaking into Norwegian waters, floating beneath the Tirpitz, then planting explosives. Only Mills' sub manages to complete the mission. Based on a true-life 1943 incident, Above Us the Waves takes a revisionist approach by showing the German officers and seamen to be human beings rather than faceless minions of Hitler. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Malta Story
The Malta Story stars Alec Guinness as WW II camera reconnaissance pilot Peter Ross. Crash-landing in Malta, Ross presents his photographs to the resident air officer (Jack Hawkins). The photos reveal that the Italians are planning a major invasion of the island. Low on fuel and men, the officer is all but helpless as the Italians mount their attack. Only the last-minute arrival reinforcements and supplies prevent Malta from falling into the hands of the enemies--but the story doesn't end there. Filmed on location, The Malta Story boasts some exceptional aerial photography, not to mention excellent performances from Guiness, Hawkins, Anthony Steele, Muriel Pavlow, Flora Robson and the rest of the stellar cast. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • John Mills
    John Mills - Peter Penrose
  • Michael Redgrave
    Michael Redgrave - Lt. David Archdale
  • Douglass Montgomery
    Douglass Montgomery - Johnny Hollis
  • Bonar Colleano
    Bonar Colleano - Joe Friselli
  • Trevor Howard
    Trevor Howard - Squadron Leader Carter
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