The first World War is in its third year and aerial combat above the Western Front is consuming the nation's favored children at an appalling rate. By early 1917, the average life-span of a British pilot is less than a fortnight. Such losses place a fearsome strain on Gresham, commanding officer of the squadron. Aces High recreates the early days of the Royal Flying Corps with some magnificently staged aerial battles, and sensitive direction presents a moving portrayal of the futilities of war.
***What was it like to be a fighter pilot in WW1?*** An inexperienced young Brit straight from the academy (Peter Firth) arrives on the Western front in northern France to assist in the air war against the Germans during WW1. One week in the lives of the pilots of a Royal Flying Corps squadron is chronicled as they struggle with the stresses & risks intrinsic to their profession. Malcolm McDowell plays the Major, Christopher Plummer the Captain and Simon Ward an anxiety-stricken colleague. "Aces High" (1976) came out a decade after the exceptional “The Blue Max” (1966) with the former addressing British pilots and the latter Germans. While “Blue Max” is all-around superior and more epic, “Aces High” ain’t no slouch. It successfully brings you back in time to see what it was like for men in the brand new profession of fighter piloting. This is a “man’s movie” in the manner of, say, “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), but a few females show up in the last act. The film runs 1 hour, 54 minutes, and was shot in England (Buckinghamshire, Essex & Eton College with studio work done in Hertfordshire). GRADE: B/B-