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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Their Finest Hour - in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

Senior HTF Member
Feb 8, 1999
Real Name
Robert Harris
Not certain where the moniker of the collection comes from, but Their Finest Hour includes five quality British WWII dramas, three of them starring the extraordinary John Mills.

Which makes this a Mills Film Festival.

All five look lovely, although as always, I have a few caveats.

Probably the best known of the group is the 1955 drama, Dam Busters, which I've always though of as akin to The Guns of Navarone.

Michael Redgrave works with the military to create a means of taking out a German dam. While the special effects are 1955 in quality, they work.

What doesn't, at least for me, is the concept - and this is a personal ethic, and I'll not take a position right or wrong - of leaving analogue artifacts that were not meant to be seen, in the program.

In this case - and it's noted in a restoration demo - it's fishing line seen holding up bombers. As far as I'm aware, during WWII, British bombers had engines, and wings, and were able to fly without the aid of fishing line.

I'd remove it. But that's me.

How does one handle the Cowardly Lion's tail?

Or flying monkeys?

Regardless, the film looks superb, and is cleaned up nicely.

The earliest of the group is Went the Day Well, directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, and released in 1944.

Based upon a story by Graham Greene, it concerns a British town that been infiltrated by German soldiers, planning an invasion.

The Colditz Story (1955) concerns one of those German POW camps which from which no one can escape. John Mills is in the lead, aided by Lionel Jeffries, and Bryan Forbes, before he went to the other side of the camera.

Ice Cold in Alex, directed by J. Lee Thompson, and also starring John Mills, with support from Anthony Quayle and Harry Andrews, tracks an ambulance that must cross the desert.

It's beautifully scanned, but I wonder if it might be too beautifully scanned, as production footage is constantly at odds with studio footage, which takes me out of the film.

Still a quality production.

The Colditz Story, stars John Mills, who you may recall from the Lean version of Great Expectations. I'll watch Sir John do anything.

It's beautifully shot by Gilbert Taylor, another one of the UK cameramen, who never seemed to catch a break, and make it to the big time.

His work here is exemplary.

I wonder, however, if the main titles were designed to be off-axis, along with some of the shots? I'm thinking, probably, yes.

Finally, we have Dunkirk. The same story as the one by the gent who restored 2001, only on a slightly smaller budget, with fewer actors, and in black and white.

Directed by Leslie Norman, it stars one John Mills, along with UK stalwarts, Richard Attenborough and Bernard Lee.

Anyone viewing these five films will recognize the fact that the entire British film industry was populated by about two dozen directors, and well under 200 actors.

It's a wonderful thing, really.

Have you ever noticed that the Redgrave family is in almost every UK production from the '30s onward. And that those that don't have a Redgrave, have a Fox, or a Mills?

Anyway, we have five films worth viewing, all in requisite shape, and currently at a $70 pre-order price, worth every pence.

Hats off to Film Movement for bring these to the Colonies.

More, please.

As to Sir John, by 1940, he'd been in twenty films, and he was just beginning. Probably, one of the more prolific, and wonderful of the British actors.

Image - 5

Audio - 5

Pass / Fail - Pass

Upgrade from DVD - Yes



Angelo Colombus

Senior HTF Member
Mar 19, 2009
Chicago Area
Real Name
Angelo Colombus
Liked Dunkirk a lot and John Mills was very good in it. Dam Busters is good too and have the UK discs to both of them so I might pass on this box set. Went the Day Well is fine and the other two movies I have not seen.


Stunt Coordinator
Jul 11, 2008
I have the UK set for The Dam Busters but will buy this set for BD's of the other films. A shame they chose not to use the matted version of Dam Busters. I do like its composition better than the full frame version.

dana martin

Senior HTF Member
Oct 28, 2003
Norfolk, VA
Real Name
Dana Martin
this really is a wonderful set, and i am noticing a trend from Film Movement, is that it has replaced Lionsgate a a release partner in North America for some quality owned StudioCana controlled titles, hopefully what comes next will be up to the same standards as this release.


Senior HTF Member
Nov 23, 2007
Alberta Canada
Real Name
Yes, it's a great set of some of the most treasured British war films. Only Went the Day Well? is new to me after all these years. I've owned the other 4 truly superb movies in just about every home video format over the years. Colditz Story, Dam Busters, Dunkirk and Ice Cold in Alex being among the crown jewels of British war films.

I just wish that Film Movement had chosen a more durable plastic case, as mine arrived badly cracked. The thin plastic spine of the box is at fault. All the discs are fine, so rather than return this just because of the splintered case, I'll find a replacement.

The Dam Busters is particularly close to my heart. There's a little town here in Western Canada, Milo Alberta, where you find various memorials to hometown boy Flying Officer Terrence Taerum. He was the navigator on Wing Commander Guy Gibson's lead Lancaster bomber on the dam raids. He's portrayed in the film by Brian Nissen, as in the scene where you see the crewman with the 'Canada' shoulder flash cry out: "she's gone!" as the Moehne Dam finally collapses.

4 months after the famous raid, Wing Commander Guy Gibson visited my hometown of Calgary Alberta to honor the Mother of Taerum, who in some tragic irony, had just been killed days before on another 617 squadron raid on the Dortmund-Ems canal. He tried as best as he could to comfort her, telling Mrs. Taerum that "Terry got us to the Dams"...no small feat at the best of times with dead reckoning alone, and more so at night and under fire nearly all the way...Guy Gibson himself would be dead within the year, and I believe only one crewman from the 7 on his aircraft on the dam raids would survive the war.

As to star Richard Todd, in real life he was leading an airborne force in capturing "Pegasus Bridge" on D-day June 6, 1944...and as an actor, he got to portray his real life commanding officer Major John Howard in The Longest Day, depicting on film the actual battle he himself had fought in some 17 years before!



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