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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Millennium (1989) Kris Kristofferson & The Cyberpunk Charlie’s Angel

millennium (1989) movie poster we've been expecting you sci-fi time travel

Ex trucker Kris Kristofferson reminisces back to his old rig with a joyful smile. They were the days, stuck in a convoy traveling down the highway. Sat up high, blasting his horn and chatting to friends, Spider Mike and Widow Woman on his CB radio. Six years working on this new job as the chief investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board had taken its toll on poor Kris. Depressed, tired and desperate to get out, he’d promised himself a vacation. Maybe even quit all together. Continue reading “Millennium (1989) Kris Kristofferson & The Cyberpunk Charlie’s Angel”

Je t’aime, Je t’aime (1968) French Surrealism Experimental Time Travel

Je t'aime, Je t'aime (1968) French time travel film Alain Resnais poster artwork

The French do mind trippy fantastic science fiction surrealism in film with ease. Just check 1965’s Neo Noir sci-fi Alphaville and snappy 1962 time travel short film La Jetee. Amazingly creative, thoughtful science fiction. Here’s another sixties onslaught attack on your precious grey matter cells. From director Alain Resnais and his 1968 film Je t’aime, Je t’aime (I Love You, I Love You). Continue reading “Je t’aime, Je t’aime (1968) French Surrealism Experimental Time Travel”

Of Human Bondage (1934) A Sucker For Punishment!

Of Human Bondage (1934) Bette Davis Leslie Howard John Cromwell movie poster

Featuring one of the most scathingly brutal smash downs I’ve seen on screen. Not only do you witness the moment the human spirit breaks inside a poor unfortunate fellow but you the viewers own eternal soul is torn from its tether. The intensity of the fierce, savage beatdown is spat into the face of its victim like erupting molten lava. He stands, shocked, flabbergasted and innocently stupid as he takes his punishment!  But what else would you expect from a movie with a title called Of Human Bondage?

Tagline – The story of a man who burnt up his soul for an idol cold as ice!

Continue reading “Of Human Bondage (1934) A Sucker For Punishment!”

The Naked Jungle (1954) Charlton Hates Ants And Sloppy Seconds!

The Naked Jungle (1954) Eleanor Parker Charlton Heston ants technicolor poster

Christopher (Charlton Heston) is a king kong prat! He’s gifted a beautiful, intelligent, free spirited, buxom, mail order bride with only one real desire, to procreate! And all this moody plonker can worry about is sloppy seconds! He’s not a happy bunny at all, huffing and puffing, this primadonna has mood swings coming out his arse! Temper tantrums, door smashing, perfume throwing and he even proudly announces his skill at reframing from bedding his indigenous workers! He’s a total twonk.

The Naked Jungle (1954) Christopher (Charlton Heston) moody Continue reading “The Naked Jungle (1954) Charlton Hates Ants And Sloppy Seconds!”

The Snake Pit (1948) Olivia de Schizo Journeys The Levels Of Madness!

The Snake Pit (1948) movie poster film artwork olivia de havillandMaybe it’s an insight into my own fractured mind but I do enjoy a good insane asylum film. Traveling into the depths of madness. They do have to be done well and feature deep thoughts on the subject. Films like David and Lisa and Shock Corridor have score high on my wolfy meter. Continue reading “The Snake Pit (1948) Olivia de Schizo Journeys The Levels Of Madness!”

Sunset Boulevard (1950) Gloria Swanson & 10 Awesome Things I Loved!

Sunset Boulevard (1950) movie poster billy wilder drama film noir

Well I got there in the end, the mighty Sunset Boulevard from director Billy Wilder is now in the bag. I sure was late to the party but wasn’t it just worth the wait. Gloria Swanson smashed it right out into the stratosphere.  No point doing a rough plot rundown on this one so here’s 10 Awesome Things I Loved! Continue reading “Sunset Boulevard (1950) Gloria Swanson & 10 Awesome Things I Loved!”

Our Blade Runner – The Final Cut Secret Cinema Experience

blade runner final cut secret cinema

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is one of my and many’s favourite movies, it perfectly features everything I love within a science fiction film. To say I was excited hearing the news that Secret Cinema was not only going to show the Final Cut but were actually going to recreate the over-populated dystopian futuristic city of Los Angeles in the year 2019. It all sent me into pure ecstatic buzz mode, making me as giddy as a drunken man. I just had to book, by hook or crook and get myself Off-World and immersed into this ultimate movie going experience.

Spoiler Alert – If you are booked to go before the last showing in July then please don’t read any further, just turn up and enjoy the wonders that will behold you.  Trust me, you will be astonished.

Continue reading “Our Blade Runner – The Final Cut Secret Cinema Experience”

Brainstorm (1983) The Christopher Walken Virtual Reality Mind Experience

Brainstorm (1983) movie poster sci-fi 80's 2
Spanish poster for Brainstorm

Rented this on VHS cassette tape in my teens, though I didn’t realise until many years later this was the second and last movie to be directed by legendary special effects guru, Douglas Trumbull. His first, and always to be a favourite sci-fi movie for me, was the eco warrior Bruce Dern film, Silent Running. A film with a message to mankind and of course those three very cute robots called Huey, Dewey and Louie. Continue reading “Brainstorm (1983) The Christopher Walken Virtual Reality Mind Experience”

The Prowler (1951) Voyeuristic Creepy Sexual Tension Noir Drama

The Prowler (1951) Evelyn Keyes Van Heflin Joseph Losey noir poster

The Prowler has been sat, patiently waiting for me to get on with it. Nearly started it a few times but knew I was really going to enjoy this one, so I was happy to wait till it was the perfect time. Knowing it was directed by Joseph Losey, who hits more times than not and being even more psyched by the two stars, Evelyn Keyes and Van Heflin. Continue reading “The Prowler (1951) Voyeuristic Creepy Sexual Tension Noir Drama”