The First of the Few (1942)


A surprisingly good movie about R.J Mitchell, the designer of the Supermarine Spitfire, and his test-pilot, Geoffrey Crisp.

I wasn’t too keen on the premise of this film. Of course, I like war films, but my knowledge of Spitfires is virtually zilch.

This film was produced and directed by Leslie Howard (of Gone with the Wind fame). He also played Mitchell himself, with David Niven playing Crisp. The pairing was very amusing indeed, and worked well because during comedic moments.
The later part of the story set in Germany seemed oddly eerie given that Howard was shot down just days before this film’s release. Not because of it, of course, but still.

It could be argued that this film serves as a propaganda piece (or more a biographical homage to RJ Mitchell), but all the same it is a fine piece of film-making. Howard’s charisma shows that he was more than Ashley Wilkes and all the better for it. Niven was fantastic and always seemed to be, no matter what role he played.

Mitchell’s death was unexpectedly sad but I didn’t know how or what to feel when it came to it. The propaganda nature of the film cannot be denied but it certainly exemplifies the important role of the spitfire fighter pilots in the war, and their bravery. A top class war film.

MY RATING: **** / *****

 

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