The Night My Number Came Up

The Night My Number Came Up is a 1955 British supernatural drama film directed by Leslie Norman with the screenplay written by R. C. Sherriff. The plot is based on a real incident in the life of British Air Marshal Sir Victor Goddard; his journal was published in The Saturday Evening Post of 26 May 1951.[1] The film stars Michael Redgrave, Sheila Sim and Alexander Knox. This was Sim's final film before her retirement from acting.

The Night My Number Came Up
Directed byLeslie Norman
Produced byMichael Balcon
Written byR. C. Sherriff
Victor Goddard (story)
StarringMichael Redgrave
Sheila Sim
Alexander Knox
Denholm Elliott
Music byMalcolm Arnold
CinematographyLionel Banes
Edited byPeter Tanner
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
Continental Film Distributors (US)
Release date
22 March 1955 (UK)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Plot summary

A senior Royal Air Force officer (Michael Redgrave) is at a dinner party in Hong Kong at which one of those present (Michael Hordern), a naval Commander, talks about a dream he had in which the Air Marshal and a group of 7 other companions were flying from Bangkok in a Dakota which crashed on a rocky shore. The Air Marshal is due to fly to Tokyo the following day but is not disturbed because many of the details differ from his planned voyage, including using a different kind of aircraft, a Consolidated Liberator.

When problems ground the planned aircraft, a Dakota airliner - like the one seen in the dream - is substituted, and a number of other passengers arrive to make the total number of people on board 13 (8 passengers and 5 crew members), the same number of people in the dream. As the flight proceeds, other circumstances change so that eventually most of the details correspond to the dream. However, instead of crashing, the pilot manages to bring the aircraft down in a controlled emergency landing in a snowfield in the mountains and all on board survive.



The Night My Number Came Up was made by J Arthur Rank at the Ealing Studios.[2]

Leslie Norman said he found the original magazine article and suggested it become a film. He wrote a synopsis and sent it to Michael Balcon, who agreed to make the film - although he refused to let Leslie Norman write the script (which Norman wanted to do) and insisted R.C. Sheriff get the job. Norman later said "I don't think R.C. Sheriff added anything to it."[3]

Part of the film was shot in Hong Kong, particularly Kai Tak Airport. Norman said he was "pretty pleased with" the film but felt "Ursula Jeans was a weak link".[4]


Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin said The Night My Number Came Up, was a "... first-rate suspense film (that) will have you holding your breath as it recounts tale of routine military flight, the fate of which may or may not depend on a prophetic dream."[5]

In the Time Out review, Trevor Johnston saw The Night My Number Came Up as, "Clever plot construction, a plane-load of top British thesps, and smooth handling from director Leslie Norman (Barry's dad) all give good value."[6]

The Night My Number Came Up was nominated for four 1956 BAFTA Awards: Michael Redgrave as Best British Actor, R.C. Sherriff for Best British Screenplay and for Best Film from any Source as well as Best British Film.



  1. "Obituary of Sir Victor Goddard." The Times, January 1987.
  2. "Original print information: 'The Night My Number Came Up' (1955)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 24 May 2015.
  3. McFarlane 1997, p. 440.
  4. McFarlane 1997, p. 441.
  5. Maltin., Leonard. "Leonard Maltin Movie Review: 'The Night My Number Came Up' (1955)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 24 May 2015.
  6. Johnston 2004, p. 834.


  • Johnston, Trevor. "The Night My Number Came Up." Time Out Film Guide. London: Time Out Guides Limited, 2004. ISBN 978-0-14101-354-1.
  • McFarlane, Brian. An Autobiography of British Cinema. London: Methuen, 1997. ISBN 978-0-4137-0520-4.
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