One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942)

One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942)

“Stand by to abandon aircraft!”

When their bomber plane crash-lands in German-occupied Holland, six RAF crewmen (Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman, Hugh Williams, Bernard Miles, Hugh Burden, and Emrys Jones) receive assistance from Dutch resistance fighters — including an English-speaking schoolteacher (Pamela Brown) and a woman (Googie Withers) pretending to be pro-German.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Airplanes and Pilots
  • Michael Powell Films
  • Peter Ustinov Films
  • Resistance Fighters
  • World War II

Made the year after 49th Parallel (1941), this joint effort by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger was the first title released under their new production company (The Archers), and showed audiences the “opposite side” of their previous wartime story (as implied in the top line of the poster; see above). The screenplay opens with an extremely compelling flight sequence which grounds us in the specifics of how pilots fighting for their lives might banter nervously while staying laser-focused (can you recognize Bernard Miles under all that equipment?):

Once the crew have parachuted safely to the ground (minus one, who is later found), we see the men’s adventures across the Netherlands — beginning with encountering kids playing in the countryside, who they must convince of their innocence (thankfully, Burden speaks a bit of survival Dutch):

Because this is a propaganda film, we sense that things will work out for our hardy protagonists — especially given how careful schoolteacher Brown is to ensure they really are who they say they are:

… and thus we can simply enjoy their clever tactics against suspicious Germans, which involve dressing up as Dutch:

… and hiding parachutes under the pews at a church where secret signals are sent by the organist:

Next we see a different brand of heroism, with Withers playing a double-life as a Nazi sympathizer while hiding a radio and helping the Resistance:

The entire film is beautifully shot by DP Ronald Neame, making it a pleasurable viewing experience. While this one is not must-see, it’s well worth a one-time look.

Note: Watch for young (slim) Peter Ustinov in a bit role (his feature-length debut) as a Catholic priest.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • The exciting opening flight sequence
  • Ronald Neame’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s recommended.


One thought on “One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see, though it’s a good film. It will be of special interest to completists of WWI films.

    The vivid opening notwithstanding, it’s somewhat slow-moving early on (though, with this storyline, it would be). It builds nicely as it progresses, becoming more suspenseful as it nears its conclusion. The scene in the church is particularly tense.

    It’s well-made, with impressive attention to detail and there’s a fine naturalism in the acting.

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