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The Battle of Britain on Screen

'The Few' in British Film and Television Drama

S.P. Mackenzie

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This book examines in depth for the first time the origins, development, and reception of the major dramatic screen representations of ‘The Few’ in the Battle of Britain produced over the past seventy years. It explores both continuity and change of presentation in relation to a wartime event that acquired near-mythical dimensions in popular consciousness even before it happened and has been represented multiple times over the course of the past seven decades. Alongside technical developments, considerable social, cultural, and political fluctuation (as well as an expansion of factual knowledge concerning the battle itself) occurred in this period, all of which helped to shape how the battle came to be framed at particular junctures. The ways in which the Battle of Britain was being represented in other fictional forms as well histories and commemorations form part of the context in which screen representations are explored.

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Chapter 1 - The Battle Foretold: The Lion Has Wings (1939)
Chapter 2 - Spitfire of Dreams: The First of the Few (1942)
Chapter 3 - One For All: Angels One Five (1952)
Chapter 4 - All for One: Reach for the Sky (1956)
Chapter 5 - The Big Picture: The Battle of Britain (1969)
Chapter 6 - Catalogue of Error: Piece of Cake (1988)
Chapter 7 - The Fighter Boys: A Perfect Hero (1991)
Select Filmography

About the Author

S. P. MacKenzie is currently Professor of History at the University of South Carolina. He has published a variety of articles and books related to Britain and the Second World War, including The Colditz Myth, British War Films, and The Home Guard. In 1993 the Society for Army Historical Research awarded him the Templer Medal for Politics and Military Morale


This perceptive and detailed study clearly reveals exactly how our memory of the Battle of Britain has been shaped and re-shaped by film and television.
- Michael Paris, University of Central Lancashire, Journal of British Cinema and Television
MacKenzie's research is exceptionally thorough and his case studies of the films are always illuminating... this is a most illuminating book that makes a valuable addition not only to the extensive historical literature on the Battle of Britain but also to the field of film and media history.
- James Chapman, H-Albion, H-Net

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