The Night My Number Came Up
The Night My Number Came Up – 1955 | 94mins | Drama | B&W
Leslie Norman, who worked with Harry Watt as associate producer on his Commonwealth films, made his directorial debut with an aeroplane story based on an actual incident in the life of Britain’s Sir Victor Goddard, The Night My Number Came Up. But rather than following the Dearden style of the preceding picture, it returned to an earlier Ealing motif, the occult.
A group of people indulge in an after-dinner conversation in which the question of fate and preordained life arises. One of the party, played by Michael Hordern, relates a dream in which another of those present, a senior Royal Air Force officer (Michael Redgrave), together with a girl, an important civilian and five passengers, plus a crew of five, is flying in a DC3 which goes down over Japan and crashes on a rocky shore. Although the Air Marshall is due to fly the following day, he is not disturbed by the story. But on the morrow things begin to take a strange turn: the scheduled Liberator is replaced by a DC3; a girl arrives as a stenographer to a member of the House of Lords who is on the flight; two soldiers hitch a ride, and make the total number flying thirteen, also as in the dream. There it; a violent storm radio failure and the plane seems doomed. The pilot, however, decides to make a forced landing on a rocky beach. Only at the climax does reality differ from the premonition, for everyone aboard is eventually saved.
Some of the dramatic possibilities of the plot were lost in the structure of the film. The story was told in flashback, so it was known right at the start that the plane had crashed, leaving only the question of how it all happened. The remaining content was some what thin, particularly as the characterisation was of the usual stereotyped kind. It was the only Ealing screenplay by R.C. Sheriff.
ExtractŠ George Perry: Forver Ealing.
Leslie Norman: Director
Jim Morahan: Art Direction
Tom Morahan: Associate Producer
Lionel Banes: Cinematography
Dock Mathieson: Conductor
Peter Tanner: Editing
Malcolm Arnold: Music
Michael Balcon: Producer
RC Sheriff: Script
Stephen Dalby: Sound