Q Planes Clouds Over Europe (1939)

“Fools walk in… where angels fear to tread.”

What a wonderful movie where Laurence Olivier is overshadowed by Ralph Richardson and Valerie Hobson.  It’s so witty that there are these complicated jokes requiring a build-up of various other jokes.  There are quite a few liberal arts degree inside jokes that pass over and beyond me but the speed and voracious intensity of delivery will carry even the most prosaic happily along.  If you read absolutely nothing else at all, even a little bit or any word I ever write about a movie ever again – watch this movie for the pure joy of Major Hammond – prequel to The Avenger’s John Steed.

A classic spy movie where the device used to down the planes is more valuable than the planes themselves, a point which is never addressed.  What is pretty classic spy movie mechanism is that the spies are after a technological innovation.  There are times when troop numbers and positions are known and a scientist or invention is high value in comparison. This would be especially true in the build-up to war or during rearmament.  The private sector profit from war will certainly remain a valid topical concern even into our modern Haliburton days as well.

This movie was received quite well not only as a delightful comedy but as a prophetic Cassandrian harbinger of WWII.  The enemies are vague and underdeveloped but active and present while the good guys are struggling to understand and find their way in their efforts to defend themselves.  Also note the emphasis on plane power in contrast to the horse and trench warfare of WWI.

This is definitely a movie I would heartily recommend and if anyone knows of other movies with Major Hammond, please let me know.


p.s.  As a youth, I would constantly confuse Laurence Olivier and Sidney Poitier simply because of the phonetic similarities of their last names…