For Those in Peril (1944 film)

For Those in Peril is a 1944 British war film produced by Ealing Studios that marked the directorial debut of Charles Crichton. The film was developed from a short story by Richard Hillary, an RAF pilot killed in action in January 1943. The basic and relatively slight storyline of For Those in Peril was an end to produce a film with a documentary feel and an element of wartime propaganda. The film stars Ralph Michael and David Farrar.

For Those in Peril
UK release poster
Directed byCharles Crichton
Produced byMichael Balcon
Written byHarry Watt
J.O.C. Orton
T.E.B. Clarke
Based onshort story by Richard Hillary
StarringDavid Farrar
Ralph Michael
Music byGordon Jacob
CinematographyDouglas Slocombe
Edited bySidney Cole
Release date
  • June 1944 (1944-06)
Running time
77 min. (66 min. and 64 min. edited for home media release[1])
CountryUnited Kingdom


Aspiring RAF pilot Pilot Officer Rawlings (Ralph Michael) fails to make the grade in training and grudgingly accepts the alternative of joining the crew of Launch 183, an air-sea rescue craft skippered by Flight Lieutenant Murray (David Farrar). Rawlings is initially resentful and bored by the apparent mundane and un-exciting life, until the vessel is called on to rescue the crew of an RAF bomber shot down in mid-Channel. Having accomplished the rescue, the boat runs into an enemy minefield and is attacked by German air and sea forces. When Murray is killed, Rawlings has to take charge and bring the vessel back.


  • David Farrar as Flight Lieutenant Murray
  • Ralph Michael as Pilot Officer Rawlings
  • Robert Wyndham as Squadron Leader Leverett
  • John Slater as Aircraftman 1st Class Wilkie
  • Robert Griffith as Coxswain
  • John Batten as Wireless Officer
  • Tony Bazell as Lieutenant Overton (credited as Anthony Bazell)
  • Peter Arne as Junior Officer
  • Leslie Clarke as Aircraftman 1st Class Pearson
  • James Robertson Justice as Operations Room Officer [Note 1]


For Those in Peril was designed to publicise a little-known unit of the Royal Air Force, the Air Sea Rescue Unit, which was set up in 1941 to save those in distress at sea, particularly airmen who had been shot down or forced to ditch in the water. In common with a number of other war-related films made by Ealing at this time, the plot was subservient to the propaganda message; name actors were generally not used and genuine sailors featured in the action scenes.

Location filming took place mainly in the area around the port of Newhaven in Sussex, with the English Channel sequences being shot off the Sussex coast. Crichton later recalled: "(My) first picture ... was a propaganda picture called For Those in Peril where we rushed around the Channel in high speed motorboats, boats which were used for picking up crashed airmen and so on. It's a horrifying thing to say, but it was very exciting".[2]

Principal photography took place in mid-1943 at the Ealing studios and on location, with the participation of the Admiralty and Royal Navy in filming. Royal Navy Patrol Service (RNPS) armed trawlers and other auxiliary craft, together with Royal Navy coastal craft (motor launches and torpedo boats) from HMS Aggressive, Shoreham, were made available. A Royal Air Force Supermarine Walrus air-sea rescue aircraft of No. 28 Air Sea Rescue unit and a Douglas DB-7 Boston bomber were also featured.[3]


For Those in Peril was one of the few British productions that appeared in 1944–1945. Its semi-documentary style suited its role as a propaganda film.[4] Film historian George Perry considered this film to be the closest Charles Crichton ever got to "documentary realism during his long Ealing career".[5]



  1. For Those in Peril was the first screen appearance for James Robertson Justice.


  1. Johnston, Keith. "The Great Ealing Film Challenge 59: For Those in Peril (1944)." Dr. Keith M. Johnston, 6 April 2012. Retrieved: 22 September 2014.
  2. Cole, Sid. "Charles Crichton: BECTU interview." BFI Screen Online, 1987. Retrieved: 23 September 2014.
  3. "For Those In Peril - Ealing Studios 1944." The Aviation Forum, 10 November 2010. Retrieved: 22 September 2014.
  4. Evans 2000, p. 83.
  5. Perry 1991, p. 76.


  • Evans, Alun. Brassey's Guide to War Films. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2000. ISBN 1-57488-263-5.
  • Perry, George. Forever Ealing: A Celebration of the Great British Film Studio. London: Pavilion Books, 1991. ISBN 978-0-90751-660-6.
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