Aces High is a 1976 British-French war film directed by Jack Gold and starring Malcolm McDowell, Peter Firth, Christopher Plummer and Simon Ward. The screenplay was written by Howard Barker. As acknowledged in the opening credits, the film is based on the 1930s play Journey's End by R. C. Sherriff with additional material from the memoir Sagittarius Rising by Cecil Lewis. It tells the story of a Royal Flying Corps squadron in the First World War during one week of battle, where the high death rate of pilots puts an enormous strain on those remaining.
- jaar uitgave: 1976
- regisseur: Jack Gold
The film is set in a one-week timeframe. It opens a year before the main action with fighter ace Major John Gresham (McDowell) speaking to a class of students at Eton public school in October 1916. One year later, a new recruit arrives at Gresham's base in France, 2nd Lt. Croft (Firth). Gresham had been his house captain at Eton and is also the boyfriend of his older sister. Gresham already relies on alcohol to cope with combat stress and continue flying. Now the strain of being responsible for this young recruit (a potential brother-in-law) is an additional burden. Croft has to learn how to survive not only in the air, but on the ground as well as he initially makes some minor mistakes in squadron etiquette. The film follows Croft's week of rapid rite of passage from naive schoolboy to adult fighting soldier. We also see his initial hero worship of Gresham crumble as he learns the realities of active service, yet he regains a respect for Gresham and the stresses he has to cope with. The film reaches its tragic conclusion when Croft finally scores his first air victory and seems to have made the leap in skills necessary to survive, but is suddenly killed in a collision with a German aircraft.