Out of the Clouds

Out of the Clouds
Directed by Basil Dearden
Produced by Michael Relph
Eric Williams
Screenplay by John Eldridge
Michael Relph
Based on The Springboard (novel)
by John Fores
Starring Anthony Steel
Robert Beatty
James Robertson Justice
Music by Richard Addinsell
Cinematography Paul Beeson
Edited by Jack Harris
Distributed by GFD (UK)
Release dates
  • 14 February 1955 (1955-02-14) (UK [1])
Running time
88 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Out of the Clouds is a 1955 British drama film directed by Basil Dearden, and starring Anthony Steel, Robert Beatty and James Robertson Justice. An Ealing Studios production, the film is composed of small stories dealing with the passengers and crew on a day at London Airport (the name of Heathrow Airport 1946–1966).


During a day at an airport in London, many complications arise, involving both passengers and airline crew members. Pilot Gus Randall (Anthony Steel) is a compulsive gambler who is caught up in a smuggling ring as well as a love triangle; Nick Millbourne (Robert Beatty) is the chief duty officer who wants to get back in the sky and vies with Gus for the attention of stewardess Penny Henson (Eunice Gayson); and passengers Bill Steiner (David Knight) and German Leah Rosch (Margo Lorenz) cross paths on opposite journeys; after their flights are grounded by bad weather, they fall in love. Nick and Penny also find happiness together.

Main cast


London's Heathrow Airport was also a "star" in Out of the Clouds.

Out of the Clouds is loosely based on the novel The Springboard by John Fores and was adapted by Rex Reinits. The screenplay was written by Michael Relph and John Eldridge.

The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation co-operated in the production of the film. Technical assistance was provided by BOAC, British European Airways and Pan-American World Airways.[2] Principal photography at London Airport started in early June 1954 with a temporary production office set up at the airport.[3] The film used one of Ealing Studios' largest ever sets to create the interior of the terminal building. An exact replica set of the Heathrow visual control room (air traffic control tower cab) was also built, as filming at the actual location was impractical.[3]


Out of the Clouds premiered at the Leicester Square Theatre in London on 14 February 1955.[1] It opened up in the United States two years later, on 31 July 1957.[4]

Modern views about the film are mixed. Film historian George Perry describes the film in his 1991 book Forever Ealing [5] as, "... another of Ealing’s attempts at a behind the scenes approach – this time an anatomy of London Airport, a much smaller community in the mid-Fifties than now. Compared with Arthur Hailey’s treatment of the same formula in the Sixties in his novel 'Airport', the result is remarkably tame. As is usual in such Ealing pictures, and in this one more than most, the background and setting are more interesting than the foreground characters, and Paul Beeson’s EastmanColour photography provides a fascinating record of how Heathrow looked in its early days."[6]

The authors of the 2009 book The Cinema of Basil Dearden and Michael Relph conclude that the film's background and its setting are more interesting than its characters.[3] Film historian Charles Barr describes the film as "an acquired value as a period piece" in his 1998 book Ealing Studios.[7]

The US edition of TV Guide writes that, "it has the feel of a soap opera crossed with a documentary,"[8] and Leonard Maltin's review is typical of modern critics' view of Out of the Clouds: "Work and play among commercial pilots; nothing special."[9]

Home media

In re-release, Out of the Clouds is the last disc in Ealing Classics 2009, Volume 1.[10]


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