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Friday, November 01, 2013

Britain Builds Ramparts High


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 about Germany's 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 '39 and 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.

2 Comments:

Blogger Lou Lumenick said...

"The Lion Has Wings''is included as an extra on the Criterion Collection's DVD release of "The Thief of Bagdad'' (1940).

9:57 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Thanks, Lou. Had not noticed that about the DVD. Wonder when Criterion will release "Thief" in Blu-Ray ...

10:26 AM  

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