Reach for the Sky

Synopsis: The true story of airman Douglas Bader who overcame the loss of both legs in a 1931 flying accident to become a successful fighter pilot and wing leader during World War II.
Genre: Biography, Drama, War
Director(s): Lewis Gilbert
Production: VCI Entertainment
  Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 4 nominations.
123 min

- Contact.

- Contact.

(engine stalls)

(engine starts)

I'm just joining.

New cadets report at the Cadets' Mess

at the top of the road.

Right. Thank you.



- What is your name, sir?

- Bader.

- Are you a comedian?

- No, sir.

- What is wrong with your hat?

- I can't see it, sir.

Take it off, sir!


I had an accident on my way here.

- I fell off my motorcycle.

- You fell off your motorcycle.

- How do you expect to fly an aeroplane?

- I expect to be taught.

Another funny man.

And what is your name, sir?

Sanderson, Flight Sergeant.

I bet you don't laugh so much

from now on, Mr Sanderson, sir.


...move to the right in fours. Form fours!


By the left, left wheel...

...quick march!

(Sanderson) As Douglas Bader marched

across Cranwell's parade ground... September of 1928...

...I marched beside him.

Two young men for whom living...

...meant flying.

Douglas was airborne within days...

...on his first instructional flight

in an Avro 504.

From the very beginning,

he loved every minute of it.

You must relax. You're still too tensed up.

Now try another turn.

Don't shove it, guide it gently.

Feel the aeroplane's part of you.

That's better.

I'm beginning to feel the plane now, sir.

Never call it a plane, Bader,

it's an aeroplane.


- I want you to try a landing.

- Right.

OK, you've got her.

Now turn in.

I've got her.

Perhaps we'll try again tomorrow.

You mightn't be valuable to the Air Force,

but I am!

Not bad.

Three in a row without terrifying me.

- Thank you.

- You're nearly ready to go solo.

- How do you feel about it?

- Fine, sir.

Take off, fly a circuit and land,

then come in. I'll be watching.

Very good, sir.

Cut back a bit!

(all hum "John Brown's Body" drunkenly)

(shouting raucously)

- 20 minutes late again.

- Names, gentlemen.

- Bader.

- Sanderson.

(Douglas) Bet I've written this off.

(Sanderson) She's okay.

Douglas... PC Trouble.

You the four who passed me in the lane?

- (All) No!

- Which of you owns the bike?

- Me. Flight Cadet Bader.

- Bayder.


Flight Cadet... Bayder.

It's the third time I've had you

for cycling offences.

- You'll get us in trouble again.

- No rear light.

Well, I did have.

You won't pinch me for that?

It's either that

or not being in proper control.

Don't be greedy.

I'll take the no rear light.

Either spells trouble.

I'll serve the summons tomorrow.

Nice to feel wanted!

You're a menace to everybody

on the road.

- Goodnight, officer.

- Goodnight.


You came here a year ago on a prize

cadetship having passed in six.

You've not only done no work... seem to regard authority

as a challenge to be defied.

Now this latest escapade!

Well, have you anything else to say?

l-I think it must be a reaction.

I've been working very hard for the exam.

You may be interested in the results, then.


- Out of 21 entries, you were 19th.

- Oh.

You fly well and you're good at games.

But it's not enough.

You'd better change considerably

or you'll go.

We don't want schoolboys in the RAF,

we want men. That's all.


- How many has Bader got?

- 102. Pity it's his last game.

Four more and you've beaten us.


- Well done!

- Thanks.

- The postings are up.

- Are we together?

- Yes, at Kenley.

- 23 Squadron!

- Congratulations!

- And the same to you, sir!

Good innings.

I see you're both going to Kenley.

It'll keep all the trouble in one spot!

We'll liven things up!


General salute!

(trumpet fanfare)

- Sanderson.

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Lewis Gilbert

Lewis Gilbert (6 March 1920 – 23 February 2018) was a British film director, producer and screenwriter, who directed more than 40 films during six decades; among them such varied titles as Reach for the Sky (1956), Sink the Bismarck! (1960), Alfie (1966), Educating Rita (1983) and Shirley Valentine (1989), as well as three James Bond films: You Only Live Twice (1967), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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