It’s In the Air (1938)


Introduction

It’s in the Air is a 1938 British comedy film written and directed by Anthony Kimmins and starring George Formby, Polly Ward and Jack Hobbs.

The film was released in the United States with the alternative title George Takes the Air in 1940.

The film depicts Great Britain’s preparations for war with Air Raid Warden training, mock air attacks dropping poison gas bombs, and the deployment of anti-aircraft weapons in the streets.

Outline

George Brown (George Formby) is rejected as an Air Raid Warden, but, subsequently, his dreams of flying would soon come true. When he dons his brother-in-law’s Royal Air Force uniform, he realises that his brother-in-law, who had “signed up”, has left behind some very important papers in the pockets. He delivers the despatches to a nearby RAF station, whereupon George is mistaken for a despatch rider from headquarters.

George soon becomes the butt of jokes from his corporal which ends up with him staying indefinitely at the RAF air base. George, who has the inability to know his right from his left but not right from wrong soon falls in love with the Sergeant Major’s daughter, Peggy (Polly Ward) a base NAAFI girl and when Corporal Craig (Jack Hobbs) who also fancies her, discovers his real identity, he threatens to report George.

On the day of an annual inspection, George attempts to escape the base and ends up in a Hawker Audax aircraft that is being readied for a test flight. While the inspector watches, George’s aerial display is memorable and the inspector insists he should be commended in order to save their skins. George manages to land the aircraft and is accepted as a flyer by the RAF.

Cast

  • George Formby as George Brown.
  • Polly Ward as Peggy.
  • Jack Hobbs as Corporal. Craig.
  • Julien Mitchell as The Sergeant Major.
  • Garry Marsh as Commanding Officer Hill.
  • Ilena Sylva as Anne Brown.
  • Frank Leighton as Private Bob Bullock.
  • C. Denier Warren as Sir Philip.
  • Michael Shepley as Adjutant.
  • Hal Gordon as Nobby Clark, mechanic.
  • Joe Cunningham as Flight Sergeant.
  • Jack Melford as Lieutenant Terry, pilot.
  • Eliot Makeham as Sir Philip’s Gardener.
  • Esma Cannon as Sir Philip’s Maid.
  • O.B. Clarence as Sir Philip’s Gardener.
  • Philip Godfrey as 2nd Ambulance Man.
  • Bryan Herbert as RAF Corporal Organising Concert.
  • Philip Ray as Airman with Shoe.
  • John Salew as RAF Radio Operator.
  • Jack Vyvian as Corporal in Ambulance.

Production

It’s in the Air was partly made at the former London Air Park in Feltham, Middlesex. The film’s art direction is by Wilfred Shingleton. The scenes of the air-raid exercise at the opening of the film are taken from the scenes of an aerial attack in Alexander Korda’s Things to Come (1936).

The aircraft in It’s in the Air were:

  • Hawker Audax (K8334) (K3081).
  • Hawker Demon (K3947).
  • Armstrong Whitworth Atlas (K1195).
  • Blackburn B.2 (G-ADFN), (G-ADLF).
  • Bristol Bulldog IIA (K3512).

Soundtrack

  • “It’s In The Air”: Written by Harry Parr-Davies; performed by George Formby and the chorus.
  • “Our Sergeant Major”: Written by George Formby, Harry Gifford and Fred E. Cliffe.
  • “They Can’t Fool Me”: Written by George Formby, Harry Gifford and Fred E. Cliffe; performed by George Formby.
  • “The Bell’s Of St Mary’s”: Music by A. Emmett Adams and lyrics by Douglas Furber; performed by an unidentified airman.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Anthony Kimmins.
  • Producer(s):
    • Basil Dean and Jack Kitchin.
  • Writer(s):
    • Anthony Kimmins.
  • Music:
    • Ernest Irving.
  • Cinematography:
    • Ronald Neame and Gordon Dines.
  • Editor(s):
    • Ernest Aldridge.
  • Production:
    • Associated Talking Pictures.
  • Distributor(s):
    • ABFD.
  • Release Date: November 1938 (UK) and 09 December 1940 (US).
  • Running Time: 87 minutes.
  • Rating: U.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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