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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

lobster Going Home

One of Our Aircraft Is Missing on IMDb

Plot Overview

Happy EasterdinnersaplingsIn April, 1941, a crippled RAF Vickers Wellington bomber is ditched over occupied Holland and her crew bails out. Landing unhurt in the open Dutch country­side are: their senior member George Corbett (Godfrey Tearle) who's the rear gunner, Tom Earn­shaw (Eric Port­man) the second pilot, Frank Shelley (Hugh Williams) the navigator, Sgt. Geoff Hick­man (Bernard Miles) the front gunner, John Haggard (Hugh Burden) the youngish pilot, and Bob Ashley (Emrys Jones) the radio operator—he's a foot­baller came to enlist for the war. Some Dutch boys & girls discover this invasion force assumed to be liberators, and they bring them to their English speaking school­marm Miss Els Meertens (Pamela Brown.) She at first suspects them as ringers—their plane after all wasn't found, it having recovered and left them in the lurch—but they sort it all out. The village feeds them well before sending them off.

choirMassFirst they go to church 10 km in the right direction. Then to a wedding party where they see the clever Dutch use music to mess with bored Nazi minds. Next to a foot­ball match—what Americans call soccer—where they learn to cheer in Dutch (“Hooray! Hoera!”). By lorry riding in back with a cow they go to a secret rendezvous on the coast presided over by a Mata Hari: Jo de Vries (Googie Withers) who runs a fishing fleet to hide her human smuggling operation. Once the men make it to the sea they're on their own.


card playersOne of Kenny Rogers's songs concerned a chance meeting with “The Gambler” on a train, who offered the passenger the advice that “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.” The refrain of the song goes:

You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run. You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

This wisdom of the gambling man's repartee is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four meta­phors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A grey­hound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

We have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any,” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” In our movie when the airmen's escape route was blocked by three Germans on a wine break, they took them out, the odds being favorable six to three.

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em.” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. The men here at first objected to attending a Catholic service as they were chapel, i.e. Independent Methodist, Baptist, Reformed. They'd have a hard time living it down back home in Halifax. Yet escape was more important, so they went along with it saying the end justifies the means. Good move, that.

The ancillary problem was that in this surveillance occupation, they dare not inflate the congregation with a half dozen military aged men who might get noticed, their farmers' garb not­with­standing. One of their members left by an alternate route to join them later. Still two too many. So Frank being an actor dressed in drag and sat close by Sgt. Geoff his ad hoc “husband,” and on his (her) other side sat Dutch boy Willem (Willem Akkerman) who played their son. When the Nazi lookie-loo took a peek inside the church, it all seemed copacetic.

You see, dogmatic Catholics stick to God's order of creation, that he made them Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Methodists are a little looser, so for the purposes of misdirection the flyers were better off with the Catholics; who would suspect? Later at the gathering point is an opportunity to compare Frank's real marriage to his ersatz one. His face was enraptured listening to his wife Hazel Mason singing on the Armed Forces Radio Program. His hostess Jo de Vries listens to her distant husband over the air, too, a Dutch announcer on Radio Orange. They are two peas in a pod, these two. It's a case of mutual cooperation, as delineated in a Greg Bear novel:

Let's get specific. Humans cooperate for advantage, forming a society. They communicate sexually, chemically, but also socially—through speech, writing, culture. Molecules and memes. We know that scent molecules, pheromones, affect behavior; females in groups come into estrus together. Men avoid chairs where other men have sat; women are attracted to those same chairs. We're just refining the kinds of signals that can be sent, what kinds of messages and what can carry the messages. (105)

Catholics call marriage a domestic church, because they equate it to the relationship of Christ to the church. That's invisible, not directly observable. Martin Luther (1483–1546) the German church reformer went with the concept of companionate marriage, which was observable even in a Catholic church. It has caught on in culture; that's how we generally regard it every­where. The separated couples are still married in what in our vernacular is called LAT (living apart together) meaning they have intimate relations while maintaining separate residences. That usually refers to carnal intimacy but here it's a spiritual one conveyed by sound of the loved one's voice, (Song of Solomon 2:14) “let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice.” A same-sex couple lacks the spiritual dimension be they ever so companionate as “Every­thing in nature can go wrong” (ibid.) Yet from an earthly perspective the homo couple in the right setting, for example when one partner is hospitalized and only family can visit, can be equal to the true marriages of these two hetero­sexual couples in this film as the homos can still hear each other's voice on the phone. For that matter Frank and Jo share a companion­ship together when he even kisses her hand in love and gratitude. And Frank and Geoff do love each other in a manly way being comrades in arms. Whatever.

dwarf goatWe have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” The foot­ball match got raided and told that fifty spectators would have to disperse, because gatherings were limited to 200. By prior agreement they all walked out, and the Germans being sticklers for precise adherence to orders (50) had to rescind their order and let them enjoy the match.

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” When the flyboys were rowing away from the bridge and the sentry started shooting, one of the men called out, “Keep down, every­body.” Another responded, “Down be damned. We're not gonna be caught,” and they rowed all the harder.

The gambler gave the advice:

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

It ain't over till the fat lady sings. There's an ending that runs after the end credits.

Production Values

” (1942) was written and directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger. It stars Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman, Bernard Miles, Emrys Jones and Hugh Williams. The British actors were good, as expected, and the Dutch did okay, too, in their smaller parts. The children were realistic. The Nazis were shadowy. This movie intro­duces Peter Ustinov playing a young priest. Googie Withers is a stand­out as a clever infiltrator.

The film rated its certificate in the days before the voluntary rating system. It's pretty tame compared to today's fare. Black and white seemed to suit its historicity. Music was only plot related. Archival footage was used and mockups weren't spared in detail. It was done in documentary style. The special effects were good for their time, though some scenes were bothered by bright glares. Languages heard were: English, Dutch, German, Latin and French. It's a foreign, not American production. Runtime is 1 hour 22 minutes, which was par for back then.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

If you're light in the sneakers and want to watch this one for the chance to see a flyboy in drag, be advised (s)he's wearing clogs in the land of dykes and dams. This one emphasizes drama more than action. It's realistic to its actual times while being gentle with sensitive viewers. Its multi-dimension themes lend it to multiple viewings. The air­craft scenes occur first. I'm easy to please, and I was most pleased with this one. It's not a spectacular but it'll do.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for children: Not rated, passed code. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Bear, Greg. Darwin's Radio. Copy­right © 1999 by Greg Bear. New York: Ballantine Books, 2000. Print.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. Web.