Aces High 1976 ****


Adapted by Howard Barker from RC Sherriff’s play Journey’[s End, Jack Gold’s 1976 action films is a poignant reflection on the bravery of those who flew in World War One. Stephen Croft (Peter First) arrives on the Western Front to follow in the shoes of major John Gresham (Malcolm McDowell), only to find that the life expectancy of pilots is lamentably short. Christopher Plummer, Simon Ward, Ray Milland, Trevor Howard John Gielgud and Richard Johnson are amongst the top brass, and the climactic attack on a German dirigible is impressively rendered. Aces High brings mid 1970’s physicality to a 1930 play, but emerges as a heartfelt tribute to war dead as well as a caustic rebuke of Boys Own actioneers.


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