The Net (1953 film)
The Net (a.k.a. Project M7 (U.S. distribution)) is a 1953 British aviation thriller film made by Two Cities Films, directed by Anthony Asquith and starring James Donald, Phyllis Calvert, Robert Beatty and Herbert Lom. The film is set in the world of aviation research and was based on the novel of the same name by John Pudney.[N 1]
|Directed by||Anthony Asquith|
|Produced by||Antony Darnborough|
|Written by||William Fairchild|
John Pudney (novel)
|Music by||Benjamin Frankel|
|Edited by||Frederick Wilson|
At "Port Amberley", a secret aviation research station in the English countryside, an international group of scientists are working on the prototype of a revolutionary new aircraft, a supersonic nuclear-augmented jet aircraft code-named M7, capable of flying at up to 2,000 miles per hour. The project will lead to M8, a spacecraft, that will be used to explore space.
The atmosphere at the laboratory is competitive rather than co-operative, with fierce rivalry between the various scientists. The project leader Michael Heathley (James Donald) is so wrapped up with the M7 that his wife Lydia (Phyllis Calvert) feels neglected and that she is being sidelined in favour of her husband's work. At a social gathering she strikes up a conversation with Heathley's colleague Alex Leon (Herbert Lom), and the pair are soon circling one another.
Meanwhile, Heathley is desperate to test the M7, but is continually stonewalled by facility director Carrington (Maurice Denham). Matters take a sinister turn when Carrington is killed, and the project members realise there is a spy in their midst.
The M7 is finally given its first tense test flight, and emerges intact. The group continue to work on modifications to iron out minor problems identified on the test flight. The finished version then takes to the sky, but this time the spy shows his hand and tries to hijack the aircraft.
- James Donald as Michael Heathley
- Phyllis Calvert as Lydia Heathley
- Robert Beatty as Sam Seagram
- Herbert Lom as Alex Leon
- Noel Willman as Dennis Bord
- Maurice Denham as Carrington
- Muriel Pavlow as Caroline Cartier
- Walter Fitzgerald as Sir Charles Craddock
- Patric Doonan as Brian Jackson
- Marjorie Fielding as Mother Heathley
- Herbert Lomas as George Jackson
- Cyril Chamberlain as Inspector Carter
- Marianne Stone as Maisie
Although The Net deals with contemporary aviation technology, there are no aircraft to be seen, other than photographs on walls and a model of the top-secret M7 aircraft. At one point, the aircraft is seen resting on water, giving it the potential of being a flying-boat. All the interiors of the MY are studio-constructed mock-ups. 
Aviation Historian Michael Paris, in From the Wright Brothers to Top Gun: Aviation, Nationalism, and Popular Cinema (1995) was positive in his review of the film. "The Net is essentially a thriller owing a great deal to contemporary Cold War tensions, but interestingly, it still pays homage to the notion of progress and utopianism through aviation and suggests that Britain is in the forefront of space research."
In Aviation in the Cinema (1985), aviation film historian Stephen Pendo, however, considered The Net, "... a poor effort; its only distinction is that it was the first aviation film to be photographed in Technicolor 3 D."
- Some reference sources erroneously refer to the project as X7 or X-7.
- Pendo 1985, p. 26.
- Skogsberg 1987, pp. 119–120.
- Santoir, Christian. "Net (The)." Aeromovies, 18 March 2014. Retrieved: 27 May 2019.
- Paris 1995, p. 176.
- Paris, Michael. From the Wright Brothers to Top Gun: Aviation, Nationalism, and Popular Cinema. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-7190-4074-0.
- Pendo, Stephen. Aviation in the Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8-1081-746-2.
- Skogsberg, Bertil. Wings on the Screen: A Pictorial History of Air Movies. London: Tantivy Press, 1987. ISBN 0-498-02495-4.