Cult wartime epic 1945’s The Way to the Stars is the earliest‚ and the only black and white‚ film to feature in Monkey Moviestars’ whistle stop tour of Yorkshire’s great cinematic locations.

During World War II Northallerton’s Golden Lion Hotel ‚ long the preferred watering hole of the local gentry‚ was also a favourite haunt of airmen stationed at the Leeming airfield and others RAF bases nearby. The screenplay of The Way to the Stars, starring Michael Redgrave, John Mills, and Rosamund John, was based on author Terrence Rattigan’s own wartime experiences as a flight lieutenant and takes its title from the RAF motto Per Ardua ad Astra.

The plot involves John Mills’ character Pilot Officer Peter Penrose arriving as a freshly trained airman in the summer 1940 to pilot Bristol Blenheims under the command of Redgrave’s Flight Lieutenant David Archdale. A young Trevor Howard is also around briefly before becoming the first of several characters to catch it from the Luftwaffe.

Between flights, at the Golden Lion Penrose falls for Iris Winterton (Renee Asherson) a young woman closely chaperoned by her disapproving aunt, while Archdale‚ in what every drinker will appreciate as a shrewd move‚ marries life-and-soul hotel manageress “Toddy” (Rosamund John) fathering a son by her before being shot down and killed over France. Mindful of Archdale’s fate, Penrose decides to abandon his courtship of Iris rather than risk subjecting her to the same heartbreak as Toddy.

When the squadron moves on, Penrose remains for a time as Controller, playing host to a squadron of US B-17s, before taking a posting overseas flying Lancasters. Forced to make an emergency landing at his old base, he meets Iris again and is talked into proposing to her by Toddy who claims‚ like Edith Piaf‚ that she would do it all over again. Her affinity with tragedy continues however when her favourite American, Captain Johnny Hollis (Douglas Montgommery), perishes whilst heroically steering his fatally damaged B-17 clear of the “village” in which the Golden Lion is supposedly located.

In short a regular cornucopia of clipped vowels, stiff upper lips, decency and sanguinity in the face of poignant adversity.

When the Monkey Moviestars flotilla calls by, Bankstone and crew will be donning whatever RAF clobber they can lay their hands on and raising a metaphorical glass (no beer til Whitby of course) to the fallen heroes of Britain’s air defence and film industry.

If you would like to support charity monkeybiking and raise money for the life-saving work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance service, visit and donate generously.

Flight Lieutennant Dickon "Tiger" Tysoe outside Northallerton's Golden Lion Hotel

Flight Lieutennant Dickon

Flight Lieutennant Dickon “Tiger” Tysoe outside Northallerton’s Golden Lion Hotel

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