It's in the Air

It’s in the Air is a 1938 British comedy film written and directed by Anthony Kimmins and starring George Formby, Polly Ward and Jack Hobbs. The film was released in the United States with the alternative title George Takes the Air in 1940.[1] Although released in pre-war times, no mention of the imminent hostilities is in It's in the Air. [2]

It’s in the Air
Directed byAnthony Kimmins
Produced byBasil Dean
Jack Kitchin
Written byAnthony Kimmins
StarringGeorge Formby
Polly Ward
Jack Hobbs
Music byErnest Irving
CinematographyRonald Neame
Gordon Dines
Edited byErnest Aldridge
Distributed byABFD
Release date
  • November 1938 (1938-11)
  • 9 December 1940 (1940-12-09) (USA)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


Policeman George Brown (George Formby) is rejected as an Air Raid Warden, but, subsequently, his dreams of flying would soon come true. When he dons his brother-in-law's Royal Air Force uniform, he realises that his brother-in-law, who had "signed up", has left behind some very important papers in the pockets. He delivers the despatches to a nearby RAF station, whereupon George is mistaken for a despatch rider from headquarters.

George soon becomes the butt of jokes from his corporal which ends up with him staying indefinitely at the RAF air base. George soon falls in love with the Sergeant Major's daughter, Peggy (Polly Ward) and when Corporal Craig (Jack Hobbs) who also fancies her, discovers his real identity, he threatens to report George.

On the day of an annual inspection, George attempts to escape the base and ends up in a Hawker Audax aircraft that is being readied for a test flight. While the inspector watches, George's aerial display is memorable and the inspector insists he should be commended in order to save their skins. George manages to land the aircraft and is accepted as a flyer by the RAF.



It’s in the Air was partly made at the former London Air Park in Feltham, Middlesex. It is now a cinema and out of town shopping complex. The film's art direction is by Wilfred Shingleton. The scenes of the air-raid exercise at the opening of the film are taken from the scenes of an aerial attack in Alexander Korda's Things to Come (1936).[3]

The aircraft in It’s in the Air were:


  • It's In The Air

Written by Harry Parr-Davies; performed by George Formby and the chorus

  • Our Sergeant Major

Written by George Formby, Harry Gifford & Fred E. Cliffe

  • They Can't Fool Me

Written by George Formby, Harry Gifford & Fred E. Cliffe; performed by George Formby

Music by A. Emmett Adams and lyrics by Douglas Furber; performed by an unidentified airman


The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther called It’s in the Air a "fast and crazy farce, typically British, typically slapstick. As a specimen of war-time [sic] culture it should not be overlooked".[5]

Aviation film historian James H. Farmer in Celluloid Wings: The Impact of Movies on Aviation (1984) considered It’s in the Air, " Fast-paced, typically British slapstick humour."[6] [N 1]



  1. It’s in the Air was re-made as Narcisse (1940), a French comedy that uses the aerial scenes from the British film.[4]


  1. Pendo 1985, p. 37.
  2. Skogsberg 1981, p. 47.
  3. "Trivia: George Takes the Air'." IMDb, 2019. Retrieved: 11 July 2019.
  4. Santoir, Christian. "Review: 'It’s in the Air'." Aeromovies, 11 July 2011. Retrieved: 11 July 2019.
  5. Crowther, Bosley. "The Screen; 'It's in the Air,' a British farce, at the Little Carnegie.", 10 December 1940. Retrieved: 12 March 2014.
  6. Farmer 1984, p. 316.


  • Farmer, James H. Celluloid Wings: The Impact of Movies on Aviation (1st ed.). Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania: TAB Books 1984. ISBN 978-0-83062-374-7.
  • Pendo, Stephen. Aviation in the Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8-1081-746-2.
  • Skogsberg, Bertil. Wings on the Screen. San Diego: A.S. Barnes & Company, Inc., 1981. ISBN 978-0-49802-495-5.

Further reading

  • Low, Rachael. Filmmaking in 1930s Britain. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1985. ISBN 978-0-04791-042-5.
  • Perry, George. Forever Ealing. London: Pavilion Books, 1994. ISBN 978-0-90751-660-6.
  • Wood, Linda. British Films, 1927-1939. London: British Film Institute, 1986. ISBN 978-0-85170-189-9.
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