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Reach for the Sky is a 1956 British biographical film, starring Kenneth More and directed by Lewis Gilbert.

It is a biopic about aviator Douglas Bader, based on the 1954 biography of the same name by Paul Brickhill. Bader (More) is a skilled Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot but receives reprimands for his disregard for service discipline and flight rules, eventually suffering a crash at an aerial exhibition and having to get both legs amputated to save his life. As World War II starts, Bader talks himself back into the RAF.


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This film feature examples of:

  • Artificial Limbs: The film is the dramatisation of the story of Douglas Bader, a double amputee who in WWII still proved a better fighter pilot than many Germans. His prosthetics even become a plot point after Bader's capture by the Luftwaffe, when an unprecedented local truce was concluded so that a British pilot could courier Bader's best set of false legs to German-occupied France...
  • Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Bader ends up playing a similar role to an RAF Hurricane fighter squadron, being rather heavy-handed about enforcing the uniform regulations before he was made aware that the squadron had lost their mess blues along with almost everything but the remaining serviceable aircraft and whatever they and their attached ground crews could carry during the retreat from France. He then goes on to be equally heavy-handed about securing tools and spare parts to bring the squadron back to operational readiness, which improves their working relationship considerably.
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  • I Can't Feel My Legs: Inverted tragically when Bader comments to a friend at his bedside that the leg he's had amputated doesn't hurt anytmore, but the remaining limb is giving him hell. His friend has to gently break it to Bader that he's coming round from the anaesthesia after his other leg was amputated because his wounds had turned gangrenous. His Stiff Upper Lip quickly starts to waver once the news sinks in.

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