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Trivia / Battle of Britain

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  • All-Star Cast: Laurence Olivier, Trevor Howard, Christopher Plummer, Michael Caine, Ian McShane, Michael Redgrave, Robert Shaw, Ralph Richardson and Curd Jürgens to name a few.
  • Backed by the Pentagon: Hundreds of real Spitfires were loaned to the production.
  • Box Office Bomb: Budget-$14 million. Box office-$2 million (though worldwide distribution bumped this up to $13 million - still a loss, but not as big of one). Since it was released in the middle of The Vietnam War, people were not in the mood for a war film.
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  • Cast the Expert: W.G. Foxley, who plays Squadron Leader Evans, was an RAF navigator, whose face and hands were badly burned, attempting to rescue a fellow crew member after a bomber crash in 1944. Due to his injuries, he lost an eye and several fingers, as well as his other facial injuries.
  • Dawson Casting: Many of the actors were too old to play pilots. In reality most of the pilots during the Battle of Britain were only in their twenties.
  • Doing It for the Art: This film became regarded as a patriotic tribute to "the few", that many of those involved in the production, actors and technicians, reduced their normal fees to work on this film. Much of the large budget went toward the acquisition, restoration, modification, maintenance, and operation of the vintage aircraft.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Although Laurence Olivier played Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding of the Royal Air Force, he was by all accounts one of the worst pilots in the history of the British military. He joined the Royal Navy during the Second World War and more than once survived near catastrophe during his flying lessons (reportedly destroying five planes). Eventually, the actor and the navy came to the mutual conclusion that he could serve his country better on the ground, and he was granted leave to aid the war effort by making films.
  • Underage Casting: Inverted. Michael Caine initially thought he was too young to play a squadron leader. However, veterans of the battle told him he was actually too old for the part.
  • Vanilla Edition: The 2009 Blu-ray release has no special features, only language and chapter selection.
  • Vindicated by Cable: VHS and DVD sales were sufficient to finally let the movie turn a profit.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • There were to have been scenes featuring Lord Beaverbrook. Alec Guinness was hired to play Lord Beaverbrook, but these scenes were cut from the script shortly before filming.
    • Rex Harrison was originally cast as Sir Keith Park.
    • Timothy Dalton auditioned for a part.


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