Conceived in 1934, shot circa '37 and put together after the outbreak of war, this Korda flying picture is part of a lost genre, from a time when planes still held the thrill of the new. Its first half is a series of sketches - Icarus to the Wright Brothers - about humanity's attempts to outfox gravity. The succession of gaga monks and optimistic daredevils plummeting to earth, plus Olivier as Lunardi the ballooning Neapolitan, is more fun than the second part, a documentary survey of aviation between the wars, as the period had just become known. Alcock and Brown, the Vickers-Vimy, the R101 - it might have seemed quite romantic, but for Frend's posh schoolmaster commentating style.
Cast and crew
Zoltan Korda, William Cameron Menzies, Alexander Esway, Donald Taylor, Alexander Shaw, John Monk Saunders
John Monk Saunders, Peter Bezencenet
Valentine Dyall Alan Wheatley Hay Petrie Laurence Olivier Francis L Sullivan Michael Rennie Charles Frend