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Exploits of air ore Boder
in war epic
From our London Office
Britain's boom in filming epics of the
w a r continue s. While "The Dam
: Busters" is smashing box-office records.
filming of another great saga of the air \ is in full swing at aerodromes dotted I round England's autumn countryside.
LOCATIONS of "Reach For the Sky" at Kenley, in England, are visited by fighter ace "Johnnie" Johnson (left), top scoring flyer of the wartime R.A.F. He talks to actors Ken neth More (centre) and Ronald Adams, of the film company.
IT is "Reach For The
Sky"?the storv of the
« ace pilot Douglas Bader. Fnjrjand's greatest hero and the man who . pitomised the spirit which
won the Battle of Britain.
'The Dam Busters." ii story of Bader is also adapted for the screen from
^t-selling novel bv Aus
3 Paul Brirkhill.
Kenneth More has been >lucked out of light comedy
) the part of Bader.
wit at Kenlev RAF. station, one-time nerve centre
if the Battle of Britain de fences, young trainee R.A.F.
en tcemen are taking a second
k at Kenneth More,
idem in the uniform of W ing - Commander a n d sormging to the salute. The urbane Mr. More returns it.
'Keeps happening all the : me. old boy," he said. "I suppose the lads are playing
so it's only courteous
to siiute back."
It was near Kenley station that Bader crashed in an old Bristol Bulldog fighter in 1931 .ind lost both his legs.
Kenlev is also the aero
i1 vhere Bader irjade his debüt as a fighter pilot back in 1931. The man who was then his Flight-Commander.
Group-Captain Harry Day,
was later to be Bader's com rade in the same prison camp
idav. Group-Captain Day is technical adviser to the Him unit re-creating the story
ot Rader's heroism.
For realism. Dav has even lent his rattered old roll rrecked prison sweater to actor
Michael Warre. who plays his
nart in the film.
To re-create the drama of those earlv davs, and to tell the story of Barter's epic fight 10 triumph over his handicap, rhe film's researchers have ransacked museums looking "for the aircraft then in use.
Veteran engineers working in some of the famous aircraft nrms which are now ruining
out jet fighters were put back to work reconstructing pre
war machines to take the air before the cameras.
But Douglas Bader himself has not turned up. either at any of the aerodromes or at the studios, to watch the pro gress of shooting on his epic biography.
Kenneth More gave me the reason why.
'I asked him to keep away."
he said. "1 realised that
neither ot us would feel happy ?and fd feel downright em barrassed.
"Impersonating Bader is quite a big enough assignment without having the man him self looking you over while you're doing it.
"'And I don't merelv want
to impersonate him. I want to get across his tremendous determination and charm which enabled hiin to get
away with as much as he did while he was a prisoner of war. The tricks he got up to there must have driven the 1 Germans crawr. In Ger
manv. guards had to confiscate Rader's artificial legs to try to prevent his repeated at tempts to escape, i
But before actor Kenneth More climbed into the togs oi Britain's legless air ace and started to plav his role before the cameras?barking typical
Bader orders "minus the Air Force adjectives, old boy")? he and Bader got together.
'AVe met a couple of times
and I learned manv of his characteristics." More said. "For example, he's a tough and driving egotist. He cracks
the whip and the world must follow. He might be hard for some men to take. But that was the way he got over his problem.
'"He was good enough to give me some yer\ straight from-the-shoulder revelations about how he felt when he en
dured the agony oi teaching
himself how to walk on arti
ficial legs; how he kept tail ing and kept getting up to
master the things: and how he determined not to let them prevent him from doing anything he wanted to do."