Riders of the Sky

Country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1968

Production year

1968

Premiere

20 December 1968

Runtime

91 min

Category

film

Genre

war

Typology

featuretheatrical distributionlong

Original title

Nebeští jezdci

Czech title

Nebeští jezdci

English title

Riders of the Sky

Summary

The 1968 drama Nebeští jezdci (Riders of the Sky), directed by Jindřich Polák, was one of the first “serious” features to which Zdeněk Mahler contributed as a screenwriter. Although the director had planned several other projects on the same subject, his ambitions were quashed by the onset of the “normalisation” era. But this dramatic story of Czechoslovak airmen in British RAF service is a good demonstration of Polák’s universal talent (his other works include the popular children’s “Tau” TV series, which led to the 1988 Pan Tau (Tau) feature-length movie, and the family-fantasy Návštěvníci (The Visitors, 1993) TV shows. Nebeští jezdci turned out to be a film that was later banned due to “normalisation” restrictions and censorship. Based on a 1964 novel by Filip Jánský, the film depicts true historical events, through the eyes of the fictitious crews of the RAF’s No. 276 Squadron. The protagonists are two Englishmen, a Canadian telegraph operator, and three Czechoslovak airmen: Captain Pavel Kolář, and gunners Študent and Prcek. Air strikes on German territory become an everyday but still dangerous routine. Študent is grievously injured during an attack on Nuremberg, in which he suffers burns and spinal damage. After his recovery, he realises the war is far from over for him. Jiří Bednář stars as Študent, Jiří Hrzán as Prcek, and Svatopluk Matyáš as Captain Kolář. Jana Nováková plays Patricia, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and Študent’s love interest. Director of photography Jan Němeček shot the film in black and white, so that he could use authentic aerial footage. The name of the film was inspired by a country and western song Ghost Riders in the Sky by American songwriter Stan Jones, and the piece itself features in the film. The rest of the music was composed by Evžen Illín.

Synopsis

The white gravestones at the military cemetery in English Brookwood display many Czech names. These were members of the British army of Czechoslovak origin who fought here and died for their homeland in the Second World War. The cries of the wounded and dying shift the story a quarter-century back. The crew of one of the bombers is composed of a Slovak captain, Pavel, an English co-pilot and navigator, a Canadian radioman and a pair of Czech gunners, nicknamed Student [Študent] and Shorty [Prcek]. Up to now, they have been lucky and have returned unharmed from all their raids over Germany. The routine is unchanging: raid – rest – briefing. Shorty keeps commenting on everything sarcastically and is protected from making terrible social gaffes only by his poor knowledge of English. When his colleagues translate his proclamations into English, they mellow them out considerably. Student loves pretty Patricia, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, and even visits her family. During a raid over Nuremberg, Student is severely wounded, ending up in a hospital with burns and spinal injuries. He refuses to see Patricia, who wants to visit him, and she eventually gets close to the airplane's captain, Pavel. A Czech fighter who suffered severe burns to the face commits suicide. Student returns to the garrison. During the next flight over the Channel, his plane has a fight with a German fighter that results in both machines falling into the sea. Shorty dies and there are only two people remaining in the inflatable boat – Student and the German pilot.

Film online

Cast

Jiří Bednář

palubní střelec seržant Malý zvaný Študent

Jiří Hrzán

palubní střelec seržant Novák zvaný Prcek

Svatopluk Matyáš

pilot a kapitán letadla Pavel Kolár

Elsie Randolph

zdravotní sestra Hendersonová

Jana Nováková

Patricia Watkinsonová, příslušnice WAAF

Joan Seton

Watkinsonová, matka Patricie

Charles Cameron

Bradley

Winston Chrislock

navigátor Tommy

Geoffrey Russell-Jones

zpravodajský úředník

Vojtěch Holý

Dubbing Michal Dočolomanský
navigátor George

Josef Váša

druhý pilot Frank, syn hraběte z Norfolku

Victor Carter

velitel perutě Batchelor

Ivan Krajíček

brýlatý mechanik

M. Jiránek

mechanik

Karel Hála

popálený stihač

Jan Kaplický

střelec Jimmy

Zlata Adamová

příslušnice WAAF

Marie Cingrošová

příslušnice WAAF

Jana Sedlmajerová

příslušnice WAAF

V. Haníková

příslušnice WAAF

A. Schulcová

příslušnice WAAF

R. Suková

příslušnice WAAF

J. Škrabanová

příslušnice WAAF

J. Zouplnová

příslušnice WAAF

Ivan Foltýn

letec

S. Bílek

letec

Z. Janda

letec

J. Melichar

letec

M. Mokrowiecki

letec

Kazimierz Siedlaczek

letec

Milan Morávek

kněz

Celestýn Mrázek

důstojník

Zdeněk Novotný

důstojník

M. Kollert

operační důstojník

Otakar Šindelář

startér

Jaroslav Vlk

policista

Ladislav Bezubka

hudebník-vedoucí souboru

Karel Kos

hudebník

Václav Král

hudebník

Čestmír Preclík

hudebník

L. Černý

hudebník-kontrabasista

J. Kopeček

hudebník-trombonista

L. Kinkal

hudebník-klavírista

S. Rádl

hudebník

Karel Hruška (3)

tanečník

Josef Chrastil

tanečník

S. Stropnická

tanečnice

Gunter Schoss

německý stíhač

Z. Káš

meteorolog

F. Kunc

zbrojíř

F. Choura

řidič

Josef Hýbler

pořadatel

M. Grygar

člen posádky

Oldřich Unger

námořník

J. Fuka

velitel

Jaroslav Doktor

pilot při pohřbu

N. Brábníková

R. Kohoutová

I. Sigrotová

Crew and creators

Second Unit Director

Otakar Fuka

Assistant Director

Milan Klacek, Pavla Marková

Based on

Filip Jánský (Nebeští jezdci – román)

Shooting Script

Jindřich Polák

Script Editor

Věra Kalábová

Director of Photography

Jan Němeček

Second Unit Photography

Rudolf Milič ml.

Camera Operator

Pavel Nečesal

Production Designer

Karel Černý

Set Designer

Šmíd, Václav Pošta, Ladislav Winkelhöfer

Costume Designer

Jan Kropáček

Sound Designer

Bedřich Poledník, Bohumír Brunclík (zvukové efekty)

Production Manager

Rudolf Hájek, Petr Čapek

Unit Production Manager

Jaroslav Vlk, František Jaderník

Unit Production Manager

Antonín Kubový

Consultant

Jaroslav Doktor, Joyce Kadečková (jazyková poradkyně)

Cooperation

Jarmila Kostolná, Oldřich Hrdlička, Růžena Hejsková, Jiří Michalovič, Bohumil Dudař, Milan Nejedlý, Jiří Doležal, Martin Günther Britting, plk. Jaroslav Hlaďo, plk. Václav Mejda, plk. František Kaválek , Josef Hlaváč, bývalí českoslovenští letci Royal Air Force

Music

Music Composed by

Evžen Illín

Selected Music

Georg Friedrich Händel (Mesiáš – oratorium)

Music Performed by

FISYO (Music Conducted by František Belfín), Orchestr Ladislava Bezubky

Songs

Riders in the Sky

Songwriter Stan Jones

Sentimental Journey

Songwriter Bud Green

Hokey Cokey

Songwriter Jimmy Kennedy

Valčík na rozloučenou

Songwriter lidová skotská píseň

Škoda lásky

Songwriter Jaromír Vejvoda
Writer of Lyrics Václav Zeman
Singer sbor

Production info

Original Title

Nebeští jezdci

Czech Title

Nebeští jezdci

English Title

Riders of the Sky

Category

film

Typology

featuretheatrical distribution

Genre

war

Origin country

Czechoslovakia

Copyright

1968

Production Year

1968

Production specifications

literary Screenplay approved 19 May 1965
technical Screenplay approved 19 December 1967
start of filming 30 January 1968
end of filming 17 July 1968
projection approval 18 October 1968

Premiere

premiere 20 December 1968

Studio

Barrandov, Hostivař

Creative Group

Tvůrčí skupina Šebor – Bor, Vladimír Bor (vedoucí dramaturg tvůrčí skupiny), Jiří Šebor (vedoucí výroby tvůrčí skupiny)

Technical info

Duration typology

feature film

Duration in minutes

91 min

Original length in metres

2 578 meters

Distribution carrier

16mm, 35mm

Aspect ratio

1:1,37

Colour

black & white

Sound

sound

Sound system/format

mono

Versions

Czech

Dialogue languages

Czech, English, Slovak

Subtitles languages

Czech

Opening/End credits languages

Czech

Awards

Vítěz

Event: Anketa Filmového podniku Praha podle názoru pražských diváků

1969
Praha / Czechoslovakia