Flight Command

1940

Drama / War

0
IMDb Rating 6.3 10 744

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
October 18, 2021 at 03:08 PM

Director

Cast

Paul Kelly as Lieut. Comdr. 'Dusty' Rhodes
John Hamilton as Pensacola Commander
Ruth Hussey as Lorna Gary
Red Skelton as Lieut. 'Mugger' Martin
720p.WEB
1.04 GB
956*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 55 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 8 / 10

Swelled head becomes swell guy...in the sort of film MGM did so well.

One of the top fighter plane squadrons is the Hellcats. When the film begins, they have just lost one of their pilots in an accident. His replacement is an extremely cocky new Ensign (Robert Taylor) just out of flight school at Pensacola. On his way from the academy in Florida to the Hellcat base in San Diego, he gets in trouble--everything is fogged in and he can't possibly safely land. Ignoring orders, he tries to land and is nearly killed. Soon after this, he also screws up during gunnery practice and nearly kills himself for the second time!! Clearly, Taylor has a long way to go to fit in with the Hellcats!

In addition to this plot early on in the film, Ruth Hussey plays an interesting part. She's the wife of the group's commander (Walter Pidgeon). The stress of seeing her husband and other men she cares about risking their lives is simply too much. Keeping a 'stiff upper lip' is getting tougher and tougher and unless something changes, she's headed for a breakdown.

The sort of character Robert Taylor played in this film is nothing new for him, as he'd played a similar cock-sure guy in "A Yank at Oxford" a couple years earlier. And, by formula, you know that the character's cockiness will eventually change to make him the team player and all-around swell guy by the time the credits roll at the end of the film. But, because it's all handled so well, the film is a lot of fun. Excellent acting, an interesting script (it's more than just airplanes and Taylor's adjustment to the Hellcats) and direction by one of the era's better directors, Frank Borzage, make this a very good film--even if you aren't into airplane films.

By the way, the biplanes used in this film were the Grumman F3F-3. These dated looking planes were retired from service in 1941 and were pretty much outdated by the time the US entered WWII. It's odd, then, that the Hellcats (a crack fighter squadron) would STILL be using this plane by the time this movie was made in 1940. Top Navy squadrons would have been using more modern monoplanes like the Brewster Buffalo or F4F Wildcat. MGM would probably not had access to these other planes, as the Navy would have been a lot more protective of their newer planes. Of course, few people on IMDb are plane nuts like me, so most of this hardly matters to the average viewer!

And, for ship nuts out there, Miss Hussey reads a newspaper article about the navy going on maneuvers with three aircraft carriers--including the USS Virginia. There never was a carrier with this name and the battleship Virginia was deliberately sunk in 1923.

By the way, I did a little checking and found out some things which are interesting. This is one of Red Skelton's first films. Soon after finishing this film, he and his wife split up...and she married the director, Borzage! Wow...now that's pretty sensational and weird! And, if you are in the mood for more dirt, try reading up on the life of one of the principle actors in the film, Paul Kelly--it's pretty sensational.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 8 / 10

Taking to the skies

'Flight Command' may not be the type of film that would be typically seen on a regular basis by me, but the story did sound really interesting and there are films that have similar subjects that are very good. Frank Borzage was also a very gifted director, though 'Flight Command' is more serious than what was usually characteristic of him. The cast are similarly talented, have always liked Walter Pidgeon especially and one of the interest points was seeing Red Skelton in his second film.

Seeing 'Flight Command', it struck me as a very good and overlooked film with many truly great things. Not a masterpiece by all means or perfect, though actually flaws are few. It is a good example of somebody doing something different doing it well (with Borzage actually seeming at ease with a serious story), which is great considering that there have been a lot of misfires when people step out of their comfort zone (i.e. Sidney Lumet with 'The Wiz', as an at the top of my head example).

There really isn't that much wrong at all here in 'Flight Command'. It is routine at times, the ideas here are not novel even for back then and are executed more than dependably if lacking in freshness.

Did think too that Skelton had too little to do, meaning that he doesn't really register in a role that doesn't play to his strengths, and felt out of place.

Borzage's direction though is professional and as said he doesn't seem uncomfortable with the material and engages with it. The acting is very good, with Robert Taylor's sincerity being quite touching here and Pidgeon plays the type of role that he always did beautifully and better than most at the time with a lot of authority and dignity. The biggest revelation for me though was Ruth Hussey in one of her best performances, one of her meatiest character played with intense poignancy.

While the script is not extraordinary, it is still very solid and honestly written with characters that may be cliched but are worth investing in. What are extraordinary are the truly impressive special effects and the exciting flying sequences, staged with much tension and emotion. 'Flight Command' is well made visually, especially good in the flying sequences, and beautifully photographed. The story does have a good deal going on and did risk being over-crowded and bloated, but the way the subject is handled has much sincerity and packs an emotional wallop. While not being dreary or taking itself overly seriously.

Overall, didn't completely bowl me over and was actually still very impressed. 8/10

Reviewed by bkoganbing 8 / 10

The Navy Takes to the Skies

Aviation buffs will love Flight Command. The special effects are outstanding for 1940, very much like Howard Hughes's classic Hell's Angels.

If this were made at 20th Century Fox, Tyrone Power would have been cast as the lead. Power had a patent on hero/heel types over at that studio. Robert Taylor who plays the lead here usually played straight up heroes in his films. Taylor played hero/heels, but not as often as Power did. Taylor debuted in that kind of part at MGM with A Yank at Oxford and wouldn't play one again until his classic Johnny Eager.

Taylor is a wiseacre fresh naval cadet straight out of the flying school at Pensacola, hence the nickname the others give him. Because of deaths an opening occurs at the elite Hellcats fighter squadron and Taylor is brash enough to think they requested him personally.

His attitude doesn't make him too many friends, among them being the squadron leader Walter Pigeon, his wife Ruth Hussey, and her brother Sheppard Strudwick. Strudwick is working on an instrument that will enable planes to land in fog, but gets killed trying to test fly it.

That opens all kinds of complications and misunderstandings among the men of the squadron and Taylor gets to feel mighty unwelcome. But he gets a chance to redeem himself in the end.

A few days earlier I did a review of another aviation picture Ceiling Zero and commented how Warner Brothers played on the cheap with the special effects. MGM did just the opposite, Flight Command got two Oscar nominations for visual special effects and sound, both well deserved.

Carrier based aircraft was still an unproven tactic for war, although aircraft carriers had been developed since the early twenties. But it hadn't yet been shown to be effective in war. It's almost quaint to watch the cast using ancient World War I era biplanes as training vehicles. But that's what the United States Navy had available back then. It was two years until the battle of Midway and less than two years until Pearl Harbor when Flight Command came out. A whole lot of aviation progress was made in that period, it had to be.

Flight Command out of necessity has to be dated, but it is still a good film to watch bearing in mind what these men were training for.

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