Friday, January 1, 2010

Air Force

Air Force, 1943
Dir: Howard Hawks
December 30, 2009

I knew going into this what type of film it would be, all things considered, but I had no idea that I would be so conflicted about it. On the one hand it is pretty awful, what with all it's propaganda messaging and the "gee whiz," "let's work together" nonsense that pervades the whole film. However, it's actually a pretty decent Howard Hawks aviation action flick in the end. Certainly not coming close to the perfection of Only Angels Have Wings (1939), but enough to keep you interested. WWII was in full force, and Hollywood was doing it's bit to keep up morale at home, so pretty much every big time director was either doing stuff like this or they were actually with troops making documentaries for the war department. It's eye-rolling stuff most of the time, even moving into "tough pill to swallow" sometimes. The film is about a bomber crew that's on it's way to Pearl Harbor when the attack happens, and lots of racists stuff start flying like "nips", "japs," and "monkeys" (?). There's one really awesome joke thrown in where they are first picking up Japanese radio signals and they are trying to figure out what it is, and one of the guys says, "Who is that, Orson Welles?" The rest of the film is about them trying to get through that first week of the war when they knew that the Japanese would be pushing them back until America could recover, with the plane moving on from Hawaii to Wake Island, and then on to the Philippines. The action scenes are really great, and the cinematography by James Wong Howe is pretty great as well, as he was a practitioner of deep focus like Gregg Toland, and manages to pull of some pretty interesting visual shots for a film that really isn't about that. The shot I'm putting in is what I'm talking about. If you are into war films and WWII this is worth checking out, but other than that I can't see other stuff that would make this interesting to people who are not.

This is what they were feeding to the adult movie-goer. Personally, I much prefer the stuff that they were feeding to the kids.


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