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Lion Has Wings, The (1939)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Scenes of serene English countryside open, overlaid with spoken narrative which extols the nature and spirit of the British people. Freedom, peace and the British desire to develop intelligence feature strongly.

Newly built blocks of flats illustrate the civilised approach of the British to the problem of social housing and every person's need, and right, for a habitable living space. Clean, well organised schools and hospitals illustrate a new, caring Britain which has rebuilt itself since the last war.

Spoken narration commends how this respect for the individuals of the country has encouraged people to be good citizens with healthy bodies and healthy minds. They exercise and take part in team sports - they like to win matches, not wars! In contrast Hitler and his army are regimented and faceless. Their 'Heil Hitler' is juxtaposed with sheep baaing.

At the Nuremberg rallies rows of anonymous soldiers mindlessly worship their leader while our King walks easily through crowds of children and their parents. They [who's they? "our King"?] sing songs with them and laugh with them. They are of the people, not mindless dictators hell bent on glory and destruction. Consequently, the freedom we treasure most - to be individuals - is threatened.

Maps and arrows show Hitler's progression though Europe and extracts from 'Mien Kampf' are read.

Britain's army and Navy are glorious and proud unlike Hitler's. Our Air Force's superiority is shown by footage of an air display at Hendon Aerodrome the previous year. English workmanship is praised and the quality of the aeroplanes is expounded. They are of the best quality because the British Government value their pilots. Guns and bullets being manufactured show how prepared we are for war and how the unlimited resources of the empire will be bought to bear.

An Air Force Commander's wife and her friend listen to Chamberlain's declaration of war on 3rd September 1939. Her husband, Wing Commander Richardson and her friend's fiancé, his Canadian cousin Bobby, arrive home and inform them that they have been recalled to active service. Everyone is struck by the news that war has begun.

The first bombing raid of the war on the German city of Kiel. Orders are quickly passed down the chain of command to the pilots. Planes are prepared and the targets identified. The men are happy to be doing something useful for the war. They are keen to get on with the job at hand, unlike their German counterparts who are surly and disorganised. The planes take off for their great adventure although there is no excitement yet. As the planes fly to their destination, the men on board carry out their work confidently and proficiently.

The bombers make a direct hit on a German navy ship when they release their bombs and enemy planes come to fight with the British. Most of the planes return home and the crew get out of their aircraft.

A member of British military intelligence tells fighter command of a German bomber raid. It is intercepted by aircraft and anti-aircraft crews on the ground as it reaches Britain and the German air crews are killed. As the aircraft return to base they are refuelled and prepare to return to the air.

Wing Commander Richardson arrives home in the morning as does his wife who has been working a shift as a nurse. They decide to drive to the river. They arrive and sit down under a tree. Mrs Richardson makes a speech about the bravery of the women during war time and how it is vital to fight for values which the British hold dear such as truth, beauty, fairplay and kindness. She turns to her husband but he is asleep. She kisses him and lies down next to him. She looks up into the sky to see a great many Air Force planes in formation.