$8.40 $8.99 Save 7% Current price is $8.4, Original price is $8.99. You Save 7%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Monday, August 26


The First of the Few is a dramatization of the life of R.J. Mitchell, the aeronautical engineer who designed the Spitfire fighter plane, which saved England in the Battle of Britain. Produced, directed by, and starring Leslie Howard, with David Niven as a pilot friend of the engineer, the movie starts with the 1940 Battle of Britain and flashes back, as wing commander Geoffrey Crisp (Niven) recounts his friendship with Mitchell and the years from 1918 to 1937, across which he helped move aviation into the modern age -- starting with racing competitions after the First World War, Mitchell is depicted as a design visionary, perceiving both the possibility and then the desperate need for faster and better aircraft. The latter becomes a matter of national survival, and he sacrifices the last years of his life to perfecting the plane that makes him a legend. As with most biographical films of this era, the picture does take some liberties with fact -- Mitchell did not spend time watching and talking dreamily of birds in flight, and comparing them to the box-like bi-planes of the early 1920s; and he never visited Germany in the early Hitler years and, thus, never heard first-hand hints (or threats) about glider clubs masquerading as training units for military pilots, an event depicted here as his motivation for designing the Spitfire; and the man's own son felt that Robert Donat, rather than Leslie Howard, would have been a more accurate portrayal of Mitchell. But in the main the movie -- which was made with the approval of Mitchell's widow and son, who were present for much of the shooting -- gets the essentials correct, and is surprisingly suspenseful for a bio-pic of this type. As a result of the presence of David Niven in the cast, The First of the Few was picked up for distribution in the US by Samuel Goldwyn, who had Niven under contract, and distributed by RKO in an edited 88 minute version under the title Spitfire, by which it is best known in the United States.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/09/2015
UPC: 0644827152728
Original Release: 1942
Source: Reel Vault
Sales rank: 15,877

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Leslie Howard R.J. Mitchell
David Niven Geoffrey Crisp
Rosamund John Diana Mitchell
Roland Culver Commander Bride
Anne Firth Miss Harper
David Horne Mr. Higgins
Rosalyn Boulter Mabel Livesey
Tonie Edgar Bruce Lady Houston
George Skillan Mr. Royce
Herbert Cameron MacPherson
Gordon McLeod Maj. Buchan
Erik Freund Willi Messerschmidt
Filippo del Guidice Betiorelli
Robert Beatty Actor
Adrian Brunel Actor
Derrick de Marney S.L. Jefferson
George King Actor
Miles Malleson Actor
Patricia Medina Actor
Bernard Miles Actor
John Stafford Actor
Gerry Wilmot Announcer
Frederick Wendhausen Actor
John H. Roberts Sir Robert MacLean
John Chandos Kranz
Victor Beaumont Von Crantz
Brefni O'Rorke Specialist
Bunny Currant Himself

Technical Credits
Leslie Howard Director,Producer
Adrian Brunel Producer
Anatole de Grunwald Screenwriter
John Dennis Sound/Sound Designer
John Dennis Sound/Sound Designer
Jack Hildyard Camera Operator,Cinematographer
George King Producer
Miles Malleson Screenwriter
Muir Mathieson Musical Direction/Supervision
Douglas Myers Editor
Georges Périnal Cinematographer
Phil C. Samuel Production Manager
Paul Sheriff Art Director
John Stafford Producer
Katherine Strueby Original Story
William Walton Score Composer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews