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Appointment In London

Appointment In London

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Wing Commander Tim Mason (Sir Dirk Bogarde) leads a squadron of Lancaster bombers on almost nightly raids from England. Having flown eighty-seven missions, he will shortly be retiring from flying, but the strain is showing. He tries to make sure his men concentrate only on their job, and so keeps women away from the base, but then he meets Naval Officer Eve Canyon

STARS: Dirk Bogarde, Ian Hunter, Dinah Sheridan

96 min | Drama, Romance, War | 1953 | Color


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One of the Finest RAF Bomber Movies Ever Made!!!
"War Lover" director Philip Leacock's black & white World War II epic, "Appointment in London," aka "Raiders in the Skies," ranks as one of the finest British films produced about the Royal Air Force. Dirk Bogarde stars as Wing-commander Tim Mason. He has flown 87 missions. He admits he doesn't get much sleep, attributing it to the stress of command. The anxiety weighing heavily on Mason alarms his troubled superiors. Group Captain Logan (Ian Hunter of "The Adventures of Robin Hood") and Flight Surgeon Mulvaney (Walter Fitzgerald of "The Rigger") ponder the option of relieving Mason of his command. Probably one of the best British bomber pilots alive, he argues that both his knowledge and skill have enabled him to survive against long odds. Indeed, Mason is shooting for 90 missions. He assures Mulvaney he is willing to be shipped off wherever the RAF wants to send him if he can attain his goal. The flight surgeon knows he should reassign Mason, but he allows him to continue flying the four-engined Lancasters into the heart of Nazi Germany at night. Historically, the British bombed the Nazis after dark, while the U.S.A.A.F. flew missions in broad daylight. Mason has to contend not only with himself and his superiors but also some of his own men in the performance of his job. Nicknamed 'the Brat,' one British pilot (Bryan Forbes of "Yesterday's Enemy") incurs Mason's wrath because he has learned the fellow has been sending coded-confidential messages by telegrams after each mission. The Brat refuses to explain the circumstances surrounding this ill-advised behavior. Mason warns him the Germans could easily catch on to this practice, and he'd be endangering his own colleagues.
The opening scene when the bombers land at their isolated airbase following a raid reminded me of the first moments of Walter Grauman's "633 Squadron." Perhaps Grauman saw this movie and felt planes landing at the outset would be a great way to start the Cliff Robertson vehicle. "Night Fighters" lenser Stephen Dade does a splendid job of capturing the action, with excerpts from German propaganda films of soldiers loading and discharging their weapons. As in all British war movies, a dame springs up moments after the opening credits. Happily, "Appointment in London" features an attraction dish in a military uniform, Eve Canyon (Dinah Sheridan of "Dark Secret"), who later assesses Mason's aerial bombing raid. Literally, Mason runs into her on the way to a briefing. She is standing beside her broken down automobile on the highway. He stops and sorts out the problem with her engine. Suddenly, an American officer on loan to the RAF, Mac (William Sylvester of "Gorgo"), takes a seat behind the steering wheel and offers to drive Eve to their point of destination. At this point, nobody knows that she is in the service. Mac goes out on a few dates with Eve, but Eve has her eyes clearly on Mason. The interest that Mason takes in Eve is contrary to his belief that pilots should not have romance relationships, because they might do stupid things in combat. Eventually, 'the Brat' dies and his wife, Pam Greeno (Anne Leon of "Reach for the Sky"), visits Mason and asks about her husband and his death. Naturally, Mason is prohibited from confiding in her. Instead, Mason takes her to the pub where 'the Brat' associated with his friends between bombing raids.
Eventually, Mulvaney and Logan ground Mason. Nevertheless, he manages to commandeer a Lancaster when the pilot injures himself when a bomb slips out of the bay and nearly explodes. The pilot is in no shape to sit behind the controls, so Mason takes over. Mac warns him that a court-martial awaits him for these antics. Anybody, Mulvaney and Logan are considerably surprised when they learn that Mason is flying one of the Lancasters to the target. Clear-headed and brave, Mason assumes command of the bombers and they hit their target. Of course, Mason is in for a reprimand after Logan recognizes Mason's voice. Meantime, during the big finale, over Germany with anti-aircraft fire blasting the hell out of the night skies around them, these valiant British pilots, bombardier, and gunners wait impatiently as they zero into their target. The suspense is palatable. You don't know when the anti-aircraft fire is going to rip into the fuselage. Again, Mason uses his wisdom and knowledge to save the day.
Philip Leacock enjoyed a long and successful career in film and television. Later, he would direct, twenty-five episodes of "The Waltons," twelve episodes of "Gunsmoke" and many other tv episodes for "Bonanza," "Rawhide," and "The Mod Squad," This vintage World War II movie about the men flying the Lancaster heavy bombers is unforgettable without being too violent.

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