Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Of all the insults to our intelligence in "The Battle of Britain," perhaps the very worst is when Michael Caine's dog looks wistfully up into the sky and whines for his master to return. We are asked to applaud heroism because of the discomfort it causes dogs. There was hardly a wet eye in the house.
"Battle of Britain," in fact, is a throwback to those phony war movies of the 1940s. Remember the obligatory scene of the dashing young pilots lounging around the officers' club? Suddenly the attack alarm sounds, and they all dash out into the night, leaving the fire burning and a few chairs overturned. The faithful old servant moves slowly through the room, adjusting chairs, and then the roar of airplanes is heard overhead as our boys fly off to engage the Hun. The servant takes a half-empty pint of beer from a table, lifts it to toast the heroes, and softly says: "Here's to You, sir!"
To its credit, "The Battle of Britain" eliminates this scene. But it catalogs all the others: The pilot staring moodily out the hotel window while his girl looks pensive on the bed; Churchill, represented by a cigar; the Kid who gets killed on his first mission; the brave little Red Cross nurse; the outcast officer whose early warnings are vindicated; the officious German general; the Nazi pilots drinking champagne while the harried British gulp tea and make repairs. And interminable shots of airplanes being shot down.
The airplanes are another sore point. Sure, Harry Saltzman spent millions to assemble and repair Spitfires and Hurricanes, and there was even a TV special about the authenticity of the movie. But you've got to USE airplanes; it isn't enough to own them. Some of the aerial photography is very good. We see dogfights actually filmed in the air and fought by real planes (instead of by models and visual effects).