“Movies… For Free!”, showcasing classic movies that have fallen out of copyright and are available freely from the public domain (with streaming video!)…
The First of the Few a.k.a. Spitfire, 1942.
Directed by Leslie Howard.
Starring Leslie Howard, David Niven and Rosamund John.
The First of the Few is a dramatised biopic of aviator R.J. Mitchell, creator of the Supermarine Spitfire, which of course played such an important part in the Allied campaign during the Battle of Britain. Screen legend David Niven co-stars as test pilot and war hero Geoffrey Crisp, with the British actor on loan from US producer Samuel Goldwyn (who, after seeing that Niven was cast in a supporting role, decided to recut the movie for American audiences and released a shortened print under the title Spitfire).
Split into two distinct parts, the first deals with Mitchell’s success in the Schneider Trophy competitions (an annual event designed to encourage technical advances in aviation) before moving on to the design of the Spitfire, with Mitchell racing against the clock to create a fighter capable of combatting the impending threat of the Luftwaffe. Backed by the Royal Air Force (who loaned the production a number of their aircraft in addition to actual Battle of Britain pilots featuring as extras), The First of the Few is notable as an example of British propaganda, as well as the final directorial effort from Howard before his untimely death in 1943.
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