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Battle of Britain (film)

The Battle of Britain is a 1969 film directed by Guy Hamilton. The film broadly relates the events of the Battle of Britain. The script by James Kennaway and Wilfred Greatorex was based on the book The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood and Derek Dempster.

The movie has an all-star cast including Laurence Olivier as Sir Hugh Dowding, Trevor Howard as Keith Park and Christopher Plummer as a Canadian fighter pilot. Other cast members include Michael Caine, Ralph Richardson, Robert Shaw, Susannah York and Ian McShane.

The film is notable for its flying sequences. For the movie the producers Harry Saltzman and S Benjamin Fisz assembled a huge number of historical aircraft, contracting former Bomber Command war hero Group Captain Hamish Mahaddie to find them. In the late 1960s there were few restoration projects for classic aircraft going on and Mahaddie's efforts rounded up twenty-seven flying Spitfires and four Hurricanes, which contributed significantly in saving the aeroplanes from extinction. Two He111 bombers and seventeen Merlin-engined Me109s were also found in Spain and flown to England for the shoot. Filming was carried out at three airfields, Duxford, Debden and North Weald, all of which were operational RAF stations during the actual Battle of Britain.

The stirring musical score was originally written by Sir William Walton and arranged and conducted by Malcolm Arnold. However, this proved to be short in length and for reasons still uncertain it was rejected, so the film was rescored by Ron Goodwin. Just one segment of the Walton score, titled The Battle in the Air survived to the final cut, framing the climactic air battles of 15th September 1940. Tapes of the Walton score were believed lost forever until rediscovered in 1990, since when they have been restored and released on CD.

Footage from the film was reused in the 2001 Czech movie Dark Blue World.