Saturday 20 October 2018

The Dam Busters’ return to cinemas to include dog name

The classic film has been restored as part of this week’s commemorations.

Barnes Wallis with the star of The Dam Busters, Richard Todd (PA)
Barnes Wallis with the star of The Dam Busters, Richard Todd (PA)

By Andrew Arthur, Press Association Entertainment Reporter

The name of The Dam Busters’ dog will not be altered when a restored version of the 1955 film is screened in cinemas across the country to mark the 75th anniversary of the mission it was based on, it has been confirmed.

The movie features a black Labrador, who was the mascot for RAF 617 squadron, called N*****.

Director Michael Anderson’s war film will play unedited in 400 cinemas on Thursday May 17.

A statement from Studiocanal, the distributor of the film, said: “While we acknowledge some of the language used in The Dam Busters reflects historical attitudes which audiences may find offensive, for reasons of historical accuracy we have opted to present the film as it was originally screened.”

As part of the screening, TV historian Dan Snow will explore the history of the Royal Air Force’s 1943 attack on the Mohne, Eder, and Sorpe dams in Nazi Germany using Barnes Wallis’ bouncing bomb.

Snow will be joined by relatives of both the film’s crew and the original  617 Squadron, who carried out the raids, for a live event broadcast via satellite from the Royal Albert Hall.

The last-surviving British member of 617 Squadron, George “Johnny” Johnson shared his delight ahead of the film’s return to the big screen and the wider commemorations planed for the raids’ anniversary.

Johnson said: “I think it’s wonderful.  I shall be most grateful for the opportunity to watch it but also to take part in this tremendous presentation to start with.

“That raid is stuck in my mind and it is as livid today as it was 75 years ago.

“To see it represented in this wonderful arrangement to me means more than anything else.”

When asked how accurately the film depicted the actual events, Johnson praised the performance of actor Michael Redgrave as the bouncing bomb creator Barnes Wallis.

Johnson said: “I was pleased to see there wasn’t too much of this ‘hail-fellow-well-met’ sort of attitude.

“It was well portrayed.  I think Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis was a wonderful representation of a wonderful man.

“And Barnes Wallis’ daughter Mary quite agrees with that.”

Johnson also shared his memories of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who led 617 Squadron through Operation Chastise.

Johnson said: “His true leadership was in the attack situation.

“He made the first attack on the Mohne dam.

“Not only was he dropping his bomb, he was assessing its defence.

“As he called each aircraft in, he flew alongside them. That to me says ‘you’re doing this, I’m doing this, we’re doing it together’.

“It is the essence of a good leader in the attack situation.  But he was very difficult to get on with outside of that.”

The 4K restoration of The Dam Busters and the accompanying live broadcast from the Royal Albert Hall will appear in cinemas across the UK on May 17.

Press Association

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