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Harry Joe Brown
A rookie flyer, Ens. Alan Drake, joins the famous Hellcats Squadron right out of flight school in Pensacola. He doesn't make a great first impression when he is forced to ditch his airplane and parachute to safety when he arrives at the base but is unable to land due to heavy fog. On his first official outing, his poor shooting skills results in the Hellcats losing an air combat competition. His fellow pilots accept him anyway but they think he's crossed the line when they erroneously conclude that while their CO Billy Gray is away, Drake has an affair with his wife Lorna. Drake is now an outcast and is prepared to resign from the Navy but his extreme heroism in saving Billy Gray's life turns things around. Written by
The Hell Cats, a group of Navy pilots are the subject of the film. These men showed a tremendous amount of courage in those early days of aviation before WWII. It's amazing what they could do, given the state of the technology. Basically, the film shows how the cliquishness of the more experienced pilots do to a newly arrived ace whose presence threatened the way they did things up to the time when Alan Drake, aka, Pensacola joins the group.
The director, Frank Barzage, did marvelous things with what must have been a difficult task to photograph some of the scenes from the planes commanded by the Hell Cats. For having been made in 1940, the film must have been a ground breaker in showing some incredible stunts, like the landing in the aircraft carrier in formation is seen from one of the landing planes.
The film showcases Alan Drake, an eager young pilot who joins the squadron. In joining the unit, he almost dies and has to eject from the plane he is commanding. That is when he meets Lorna Gary, who unknown to him is married to the base commander. "Pensacola", as he is known to the other men in the base, proves to be popular until his best friend dies trying to perfect a technique not approved by the Navy. The company sensing he and Lorna are having an affair quickly join ranks against him.
Robert Taylor makes a good contribution as Drake. Ruth Hussey is wonderful with her Lorna Gary. Walter Pigeon plays her adoring husband Bill. Paul Kelly, Shepperd Strudwick and Red Skelton also make good appearances as some of the pilots.
"Flight Command", although dated, proves to be a pleasant time at the movies.
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