The Lion Has Wings (1939) Answers German Aggression
England's first propaganda salvo of the war, made by Alex
Korda in twelve days and in theatres only eight weeks after shooting began.
It's more an extended newsreel than feature, a first thirty minutes pure docu
planned takeover. Narration continues from there to laud Brit preparedness and
ability to whip any foe imposing war upon the Isles. Declared sea and sky mastery
promises a short struggle, even if UK officialdom knew better. Merle
Oberon and June Duprez, at respective peaks, are among what we're fighting for.
Multiple directors took units so as to rush completion. Michael Powell said he
faked Brit's grasp and wide installation of radar to give Krauts a shiver.
Stock and factory footage is assembled to look as though England has
caught up with, and now surpasses, German readiness. A nervous UK public
cheered that prospect and made Lion a late '39and into '40 hit. Interest was
less on our shores, not a surprise, though it did bring $144K in domestic
rentals upon United Artists' release, that company being US distributor
for Korda product. The Lion Has Wings was most valuable for British morale
it boosted, and toward that end, gave plenty. Churchill kept lights on
for a Brit-pic industry partly in thanks for contribution made here, and Korda's sharing
of gross with war relief efforts. The Lion Has Wings is presently Janus-held
and turns up on TCM now and again.