The Way to the Stars (1945) Johnny In The Clouds WWII Bomber Base Drama

The Way to the Stars (1945) Johnny In The Clouds poster film movie anthony asquith

Called The Way to the Stars in the UK and Johnny in the Clouds in the USA. This outstanding World War Two drama focuses on the lives of RAF bomber pilots during the course of the war. It shows the progression of new and improved aircraft being tested and flown into battle. Whilst following the day to day routine of the pilots responsible for flying them awaiting their next mission. Moving through the years of 1940 to 1944. It was released in the UK in June 1945 a few months before WWII had finished and overseas in the US during November.

The Way to the Stars (1945) David Archdale Michael Redgrave Peter Penrose John Mills

The film follows rooky pilot Peter Penrose (John Mills) as he arrives at the RAF Station Halfpenny Field airfield. With just 15 hours flight time under his belt in the Bristol Blenheim, he’d been assigned to join the bomber pilots of 720 squadron. On meeting his superior Flight Lieutenant David Archdale (Michael Redgrave) he soon discovers he will tallying up those hours, real fast.

Peter Penrose –I’m afraid I’m strictly amateur.
Flight Lt. David Archdale –There aren’t any amateurs and professionals anymore, just good pilots and bad pilots. The good pilots stay alive and the bad ones don’t. And that’s not true anymore either!

The Way to the Stars (1945) Peter Penrose (John Mills) Michael Redgrave bomber pilot

The Way to the Stars (1945) Johnny In The Clouds RAF Bristol Blenheim Bomber Squadron
Bristol Blenheim Light Bomber

Flash forward a year and we find Peter has become a first class pilot now flying bombing raids and carrying out reconnaissance onboard the US manufactured Douglas Boston A-20 Havoc. And of course, after such missions it’s always good to unwind at the local, the Golden Lion Hotel, which served lashings of pints and brandy. You could guarantee a good sing song around the piano but when last orders come, landlady Miss Todd (Rosamund John) doesn’t take any nonsense.

The Way to the Stars (1945) Bonar Colleano Johnny Hollis Douglass Montgomery John Mills beer sing song piano

The Way to the Stars (1945) Johnny In The CloudsUnited States Douglas A-20 Havoc bomber
Douglas Boston A-20 Havoc

Over the next few months a lot changes for our Peter. He’s fallen in love with Iris Winterton (Renee Asherson), been grounded and assigned ground controller. This coincides with the arrival of the United States Army Air Forces taking over the airfield for their B-17 Flying Fortress bombardment squadron. Peter becomes friends with the American crew, Captain Johnny Hollis (Douglass Montgomery) and his Lieutenant Joe Friselli (Bonar Colleano) and what else to do rather than flying? Yep you got it, drink loads of pints down the old boozer. It’s not long before Captain Johnny and his squadron head out on their bombing raids and Peter is back, this time flying the Avro Lancaster. Who will return from these treacherous missions? Can you make friends or even fall in love during such dangerous and difficult times? The Way to the Stars deals with this dilemma in this expertly observed war time drama.

The Way to the Stars (1945) Johnny In The Clouds Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
The Way to the Stars (1945) Johnny In The Clouds Avro Lancaster bomber
Avro Lancaster

A few things.

  • Directed by Anthony Asquith. I’ve featured a few of his films on here before like The Browning Version and Orders To Kill. Feel free to recommend others by him.
  • Written by Terence Rattigan who’d been a Flight Lieutenant himself in the RAF. At first writing his experiences for a play called Flare Path in 1942. The movie was produced by Anatole de Grunwald.
  • I think I prefer the title Johnny in the Clouds, especially as the film centers around the poem “For Johnny” an ode to Royal Air Force pilots written by John Pudney.
  • The eye eagled with spot Bill Owen aka Compo from the long running British comedy series Last Of The Summer Wine. It’s amazing to see he looks as old in this as he does 40 plus year later!

The Way to the Stars (1945) John Mills Douglass Montgomery Bill Owen Nobby Last Of Summer Wine

  • Look out for Trevor Howard, in his first credited role, playing Squadron Leader Carter. His next film would be Brief Encounter!
  • Every year in my home town of Bournemouth there’s an airshow on the coast. Sally B the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a regular flyer and she’s a wonder to watch. Incredible sound. She’s the last airworthy B-17 in Europe. You can read about her story on the official website Sally B
IMGP3032
Sally B the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

There’s a few things that really set this film aside. It’s brilliant to see, especially as the war had not yet ended, the way all the different aircraft are introduced through the years. Starting with the lighter bombers and moving on to the more famous named heavier bombers that were essential for the strategic bombing campaign.

The other standout was the way death on the air base was revealed. We see no battles as we are grounded on the base but we wait with binoculars and bated breath and count the returning aircraft. Left to see who walks back through the door. Who’s come back? It’s simple and extremely effective. You can only imagine that is what it would of been like. You mutter the words “Bad show old boy” pick up your kit and carry on, with a cup of tea, of course.

The film feels like a grand tribute to the allied bomber pilots that risked their lives throughout World War Two. It’s a very recommend watch if you haven’t seen it.  Thanks for having a read. All the best.. Mikey Wolf

The Way to the Stars (1945) Johnny In The Clouds American poster
Apparently it didn’t do very well at the American box office and surely that bland poster didn’t help matters.
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Babylon (1980) A Movie That Helped Shape My Life Gets Its First US Theatrical Release.

Babylon (1980) poster reggae film movie art work release dub

Babylon is one of those movies that helped shaped my life. One of those films that appear in your life at a certain age and hit that perfect note, right when you are discovering yourself. Continue reading “Babylon (1980) A Movie That Helped Shape My Life Gets Its First US Theatrical Release.”

Across the Bridge (1957) Rod Steiger And A Train Trip To Mexico For A Fistfull Of Dollars

Across The Bridge (1957) Rod Steiger Ken Annakin Graham Greene amazing Movie Poster

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The Informers (1963) Underworld Gangsters, Snitches And Inspector Nigel Patrick

The Informers (1963) incredible drwn artwork poster one sheet Nigel Patrick

Yes I may be of a rotund nature but I’m sure the ladies liked my cuddly frame. Happy go lucky was my motto. Besides, I was a self employed man happy to wander around the good old bars of London supping on whatever booze flowed it’s way into my mouth. A beer always followed a whiskey very nicely. And quite frankly when the whiskey dried up there was always brandy, gin or even a sherry. To be honest I wasn’t fussy. If I was in the pub I could go to work. Me, Irish Jimmy Ruskin (John Cowley) liked to gather information. Observe everything that was happening around me. This knowledge had a price and that price paid for this here nice lifestyle of mine. I wasn’t made for lifting, grafting or labouring. My specialty was collecting crime intelligence and passing it on to my good friend, John. It just so happened that John was otherwise known as Chief Inspector John Edward Johnnoe (Nigel Patrick). Continue reading “The Informers (1963) Underworld Gangsters, Snitches And Inspector Nigel Patrick”

Green for Danger (1946) Doctors, Flirting, Doodlebugs, Murder and Alastair Sim

Green for Danger (1946) Alastair Sims murder mystery whodunit movie poster

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Seven Days to Noon (1950) How Far Would You Go To Save Mankind?

Seven Days to Noon (1950) Boulting brothers thriller movie poster

Standing nervously in the dark of a small cheap bed and breakfast. A haven for now. He knew he wouldn’t have the appetite for the breakfast and he certainly wouldn’t sleep a wink. He paced the room. The streetlights casting shadows across the room. Dreadful images constantly twisted in his mind. Thoughts of what he planned to do consumed his soul. He wasn’t a bad man but he knew his name would go down in the history books as an evil harbinger of death! Continue reading “Seven Days to Noon (1950) How Far Would You Go To Save Mankind?”

Billy Budd (1962) Terence Stamp Sweetly Smiles Through The Napoleonic War

Billy Budd (1962) Peter Ustinov robert ryan terence stamp poster movie art work

And again I reached that age old question? Is Robert Ryan going to be a goodie or a baddie? Well I believe it’s no secret to say that Robert Ryan’s portrayal of John Claggart the Master Of Arms is as malicious and hateful as he’s ever been. No question? A man so cruel and despicable that he makes another ship bound lunatic, like say Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) look decidedly sweet and tender. Continue reading “Billy Budd (1962) Terence Stamp Sweetly Smiles Through The Napoleonic War”

Deadlier Than the Male (1967) Crazy Hot Lady Assassins In Bond-Esque Caper

Deadlier Than the Male (1967) poster james bond style hot girl kickass for hire

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Deadlier Than the Male (1967) Elke Sommer Irma Eckman Sylva Koscina Penelope harpoon sea bikinis sexy Continue reading “Deadlier Than the Male (1967) Crazy Hot Lady Assassins In Bond-Esque Caper”

The Reckoning (1970) Marler Raced Up North For Revenge Before Get Carter

The Reckoning (1970) Nicol Williamson Jack Gold Ann Bell poster

Before Jack Carter (Michael Caine) swaggered around the north brandishing a shotgun with his tackle hanging out. There had been another! Michael Marler (Nicol Williamson) preceded the London bad boy as the returning prodigal son. Both had family deaths to revenge and women to bed. Jack speeds around in his humble Ford Cortina in Newcastle upon Tyne whilst Michael rockets to Liverpool in his posh Jaguar. Jack was a gangster. Michael is a cutthroat businessman. Both had payback on their minds. Continue reading “The Reckoning (1970) Marler Raced Up North For Revenge Before Get Carter”

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969) Gerry Anderson Pulls Away The Strings

journey to the far side of the sun (1969) poster

The incredible had happened. The mindblowing discovery of a new planet in our solar system! How can that be? Hidden behind the sun, following our own Earth’s orbital pathway, was another celestial body. Always hidden. The year is 2069. With data being processed from a returning Sun Probe, the shock findings throw intrigued and mild panic through the European Space Exploration Council. EUROSEC’s director Jason Webb (Patrick Wymark) mind goes into overdrive. They need to urgently send a manned mission to the mysterious new planet immediately. Continue reading “Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969) Gerry Anderson Pulls Away The Strings”