Clouds Over Europe (1939)

(a.k.a. Q PLANES)
Article #1042 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-21-2004
Posting Date: 6-19-2004
Directed by Tim Whelan
Featuring Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Valerie Hobson

A British secret service agent unites with a test pilot to prove their theory that a string of airplane accidents was not just a coincidence, but rather the work of foreign spies.

You would be excused if you found precious little to catch your attention in the above plot description, as it sounds like a fairly common plot. In fact, there is precious little in the storyline as such to really merit more than passing interest. However, the cast list might indeed catch your attention, and if you decided to tune in based on that you might find yourself pleasantly surprised. It is indeed the cast and the witty dialogue of the surprisingly light-hearted script that make this movie work. Both Olivier and Hobson do fine jobs in their roles, but the movie is stolen by Ralph Richardson, who is simply hilarious as the eccentric secret service man working on the case; in fact, his obsession with both his umbrella and his hat are traits that go a long way towards making me think that there’s more than just a little similarity between his character and that of Patrick MacNee’s Mr. Steed on “The Avengers”. Not that this movie is as bizarre as the episodes of that show, mind you, but the same sense of humor pervades them both. It’s not a perfect movie, but it is worth a look.

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