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Reach for the Sky 1956
Description: The real storyline of airman Douglas Bader who overcame the loss of both legs in a 1931 flying accident to become a successful warrior pilot and wing leader during Globe Fight II.
Released: 27 Jul 1956 Director: Lewis Gilbert Writers: Paul Brickhill (book), Lewis Gilbert (screenplay), Vernon Harris (additional scenes) Actors: Kenneth More, Muriel Pavlow, Lyndon Brook, Lee Patterson Genres: Biography, Drama, War
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Reach for the Sky Reviews:

I am going to be rather biased in my review of this movie as Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader C.B.E., D.S.O, D.F.C is in my opinion, only one step lower than the Almighty himself, on par with Churchill, Wellington and Nelson as one of the best Englishmen that ever lived.Some may argue that he was an arrogant and dogmatic man, and of course in many methods you will be right, but if you had lost both of your legs at the young age of 21 and had to war each inch of the method just to be treated as an equal rather than a 'cripple', wouldn't you be a bit arrogant too? I know I sure as hell would be.In those days Englishmen were Englishmen and that meant being forthright and brave, with Bader's case the method it was, he just had to be a bit more forthright and bit more brave to prove to himself he was not a second rate Englishman, so don't knock him.He was such a generous and type man, who worked tirelessly and selflessly, to support folks with related disabilities to his own, especially children.However his charitable work is not even hinted at in this film, which only covers the period from 1928 when he entered Cranwell R.A.F College, until 1945 and the end of the War.We see the young Bader excel at sports like Cricket and Rugby and we see him take his first solo flights on his street to becoming not only one of the finest pilots in the R.A.F but one of the foremost aerobatic display pilots in the world.But we see a dramatic and tragic fall from grace, as on 14th December 1931 Bader stupidly accepts a challenge to perform aerobatics at stupidly weak height, and the effect is the near fatal crash, which costs Bader both his legs, and the finished destruction of his whole method of life.We then follow him, through a tough and trying, mental and physical battlefield as he tries to rebuild his shattered life. Bader has to come to terms with every obstacle on his street back to fitness and mobility, and through this movie we almost feel as if we are struggling with him, from the first several jerky hops on a 'peg-leg' to the first tottering baby steps on the fresh state of the art artificial tin legs.We the audience are so engrossed in his brave war that we automatically reach out and are ready to catch him as he stumbles.Once he has returned to full health and after being grounded and 'phased out' by the R.A.F., we follow Douglas into civilian life as he takes on an uninspiring job, his marriage to his beloved wife Thelma, and the pursuit of his fresh found love of golf, which he feels is a 'sport he can enjoy on equal terms with anyone'However when the Second Globe Fight erupts in 1939, Douglas once again takes up the war with the R.A.F. in his point to return to active service. This time urgency seems to over ride caution and Bader is accepted, and is later given a command of a squadron, in the run up to the War of Britain.When Bader's own concepts of warrior strategies reach the ears of Warrior Command, he is given latitude to place these concepts in to action, and his squadron is later joined by two others until eventually Bader was the first person to lead a formation of five squadrons into war in a strategy known as The Duxford Wing.However on the 9th August 1941, Bader's Spitfire collided with a Messerschmitt 109 and he was forced to bail out behind opponent lines, and as a effect he spent the remainder of the fight a P.O.W. in Germany, yet this set back did nothing to curb his British spirit or his dogmatic personality, as he regularly baited, insulted and outwitted the Germans at each occasion, making few escape attempts over the next four years.The movie ends with newly promoted Group Captain Bader, leading the ceremonial War of Britain win fly past over London on 15th September 1945, showing current footage of the formation, with Bader's Aeroplane flying solo in front.Paul Brickhill's biography on Bader, on which this movie is based, is a gotta read for anyone who is interested in this extraordinary life, and I thoroughly suggest it, as it goes into the finer detail, a motion picture should not possibly hope to cover.However, even the ebook does not give a full biography of the man, as it was printed in 1954, when most of Bader's charitable achievements, the death of his wife, his Knighthood, second marriage and sudden death from heart failure at the age of 72 were still a long method off.However the plus mission of making a bio-pic of a hero who was still living, was that Bader was able to have full input into the movie, most notably when it came to the casting of his wife. His exact words on this topics were, 'I'm not going to have some silly tart testing my wife.' But when Bader found out that Muriel Pavlow had been cast he was overjoyed and gave his full approval. Also he became nice mates with Kenneth More who portrayed Douglas in the film, in fact the two had become so close he was deeply saddened and affected by More's death which occurred just a several weeks before his own.However, Kenneth More, is the excellent Bader, Muriel Pavlow is a glamorous and heartfelt Thelma and Lewis Gilbert superbly directs, this storyline of courage and fortitude, a storyline of a character amongst heroes, who despite his appalling disabilities, wars on to become not only a War of Britain ace, but an inspiration to millions of folks worldwide.


'The channels are blocked? Then we'll ruddy well UNblock 'em!' This is the mission in the movie where I feel like cheering, as it perfectly sums up Bader's 'can do, will do' approach. It's the real storyline of Douglas Bader, a young flying enthusiast who went on to be a fearless WW2 Spitfire pilot, losing both legs in the process. His struggle to walk again, his courting of a cute woman and his soon formation of 'the large wing' in the war vs the Nazi invasion are laid out here with gusto, verve and a tiny humour. Kenneth More is perfect as Bader, using his natural, relaxed acting technique to give the part a free-wheeling energy. The very cute Muriel Pavlow plays his wife who grows increasingly concerned at his derring-do, and there is a solid cast of British regulars of the time. The melody is stirring, the direction brisk and the storyline itself is straight out of a Boys' Own comic. What more should you ask for? A excellent Sunday afternoon film.


It's everytime encouraging to see the indomitable human spirit gain control vs all odds. How simple it would have been for pilot Douglas Bader, played by Kenneth More here, to simply give in to circumstances, drop out of active life, and lead a limited existence all because of a dreadful plane accident in which he lost both legs. But he didn't select to go that way, and with the advent of WW2 he managed to resume his active pilot career despite the fact of having artificial legs, and had more than a several journeys which he survived. I like this film for its positive grasp of life and living, and shows that you can make your globe if you have singleminded determination. Also of interest were the true life movie footage of aerial manoeuvrings used from the war. I'd suggest this fight film any time.



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