GenreDrama, War ProducerMichael Balcon LanguageEnglish
WriterPatrick Kirwan, Austin Melford, Diana Morgan Release dateNovember 1941 CastJohn Clements (Lt. Dick Stacey), Leslie Banks (Vice Adm. David Wetherby), Jane Baxter (Celia Wetherby), Ann Todd (Kay Gordon) Similar moviesJohn Clements appears in Ships with Wings and Convoy
Lt. Dick Stacey (John Clements), a pilot for the British Fleet Air Arm, inadvertently causes another airplane to crash, and is consequently discharged. After a brief period of remorse, Stacey cuts his losses and joins the crew of a Greek ocean liner in the Mediterranean. As the action of World War II heats up, the Germans begin attacking ships in the area. Luckily for Stacey, his old aircraft carrier arrives, and hes given a chance to redeem himself in battle.
Ships with Wings is a 1941 British war film directed by Sergei Nolbandov and starring John Clements, Leslie Banks and Jane Baxter. During the Second World War the British fleet air arm fight the Germans in Greece.
Before the war, a Fleet Air Arm pilot is dismissed for causing the death of a colleague. Working for a small Greek airline when the Germans invade Greece, he gets a chance to redeem himself and rejoin his old unit on a British carrier. This is regarded the last of the conventional, rather stiff 1930th style Ealing war films, to be succeeded by much more realism and better storytelling.
The film premiered in November 1941 and went on general release in January 1942. It was a commercial success and was the second most popular film in British cinemas that month behind It Started with Eve. The sinking of the Ark Royal, on which a number of scenes were set and shot, in November 1941 added a sense of topicality to the film.
The film received an overwhelmingly positive reception from the popular press on its release. However, it came under attack from a number of intellectuals for what they considered its lack of realism while the Prime Minister Winston Churchill objected because of the large number of British casualties shown in the film which he considered bad for morale. The producer Michael Balcon was disturbed by these criticisms and commenced a shift in Ealingâ€™s production away from such films towards what were considered more realistic portrayals in an attempt to counter this perceived lack of authenticity. However, except for Dead of Night, Ealings films for the remainder of the war failed to enjoy the same commercial success as the earlier "unrealistic" war films and were eclipsed at the box office by the Gainsborough Melodramas.
John Clements - Lieutenant Dick Stacey
Leslie Banks - Vice Admiral David Wetherby
Jane Baxter - Celia Wetherby
Ann Todd - Kay Gordon
Basil Sydney - Captain Bill Fairfax
Edward Chapman - Papa Papadopoulos
Hugh Williams - Wagner
Frank Pettingell - Fields
Michael Wilding - Lieutenant David Grant
Michael Rennie - Lt Maxwell
Cecil Parker - German Air Marshal
John Stuart - Commander Hood
Morland Graham - CPO Marsden
Charles Victor - MacDermott
Hugh Burden - Sub Lieutenant Mickey Wetherby
Frank Cellier - General Baradino Scarappa
Betty Marsden - Jean
John Laurie - Lieutenant-Commander Reid
George Merritt - Surgeon Commander
Charles Sturat - Von Rittau
John Clements appears in Ships with Wings and Convoy. Leslie Banks appears in Ships with Wings and Neutral Port. Wing and a Prayer (1944). Michael Balcon produced Ships with Wings and San Demetrio London. The Way Ahead (1944).
Aldgate, Anthony & Richards, Jeffrey. Britain Can Take It: British Cinema in the Second World War. I.B. Tauris, 2007.