The First of the Few/Spitfire (1942)

The First Of The Few:Spitfire (1942)I’ve not seen many films both either David Niven or Leslie Howard. So it was a treat to find them both in this filmic account of the origins of the Spitfire plane that helped us win WWII. The First of the Few/Spitfire (1942) made at the right time too, during the middle of the conflict, perfect to boost morale which may have taken a beating. And making use of in use airfields to capture the iconic aircraft as they took to and landed from the skies.

For someone who knows very little about the history of the aircraft we spend a good third of the film’s duration looking at how the idea came about during the earlier 1920’s when aircraft designer R.J. Mitchell (Howard) who is designing craft for the Schneider trophy that took place between the U.K., U.S. and Italy. Which saw his ideas grew to take the supermarine-planes and compress the design to become more streamlined.

Along with his pilot friend Geoffrey Crisp (Niven) who flew in all of Mitchell’s record breaking flights. A friendship that would last the length of the film. Crisp being the lighter side whilst the serious duty of designing a fighter plane fell on Mitchell who after a trip to then Nazi Germany made him realise what had to be done to in order to fend of the impending conflict which only a few really saw coming until it was too late.

The design process of the actual craft takes up a good portion of the film, and rightly so, from fighting with his employers before they are bought out by a company who realises his potential. There is a lot of romanticism going on, which is true of most films of the time, sugar-coating the facts to be more entertaining, and it works as we see the well-known faces of British cinema design, and fly this iconic plane which helped us win the war. Something they couldn’t at the time predict, ensuring that The First of the Few wasn’t forgotten in years to come.


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