In 1940, during the Battle of Britain, Peter Penrose (John Mills), a recently qualified flyer with the RAF, joins a squadron based in the Midlands. He quickly makes the acquaintance of Flight Lieutenant David Archdale (Michael Redgrave) and, when the Commanding Officer is killed, David is made the acting C.O. By 1942 the aerodrome is handed over to American flyers of the 8th Air Force and, after 43 missions, David removes Peter from active duty after it becomes clear he is suffering from the strain. David dies in combat and, although the British flyers leave the base, Peter remains there as Controller. It’s not long, however before he manages to get himself a posting to fly Lancasters and leaves the base without explaining to his fiancée why he has broken off their relationship.
An outstanding example of the British War Film at its best, The Way to the Stars features compelling performances from both Redgrave and Mills, with solid support from Stanley Holloway (My Fair Lady), Basil Radford (The Lady Vanishes), Rosamund John (Green for Danger) and, in a small role, Trevor Howard (Brief Encounter) as Squadron Leader Carter.