Union officer Kerry Bradford escapes from Confederate Prison and is set to Virginia City in Nevada. Once there he finds that the former commander of his prison Vance Irby is planning to send $5 million in gold to save the Confederacy.
A new flight surgeon and a Navy pilot overcome personal differences to work on solving the problem of Altitude Sickness which causes blackouts at high altitude. The real stars of the film are the pre-World War II navy aircraft featured in full color Written by
Robert Svacha <email@example.com>
Seven years earlier Warner Brothers did a film called Here Comes the Navy which launched the buddy film genre and the teaming of James Cagney and Pat O'Brien. It was shot entirely on location at the naval base there.
This time it's a more sophisticated story about Navy test pilots and flight surgeons trying to lick the problems of flight. Dive Bomber takes for granted the fact that very shortly the USA will be in a shooting war.
What is unusual is the reverse casting in Dive Bomber. Normally Errol Flynn would have been the test pilot and visiting from Paramount Fred MacMurray would be the doctor. My guess is that Errol probably asked Jack Warner for the change to do something a little different. Errol told many a tall tale in his memoirs, but one thing that was consistent was that he did get bored with his heroic image.
It works out fairly well for both guys. In fact later on Fred MacMurray played Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I air ace in another film and I'm sure he was cast there as a result of what he did in Dive Bomber.
Of course a lot of the film is phony. Our pilots or no one else's pilots ever used those diving suit like contraptions that Flynn and fellow doctor Ralph Bellamy designed for high altitude flying during combat. That did come post World War II however.
Nice aerial footage done in gorgeous technicolor is another positive feature of Dive Bomber. Howard Hughes couldn't have done it better.
One other thing, leading lady Alexis Smith met and married her husband Craig Stevens on the set of this film. Stevens was a contract player doing secondary roles for Warner Brothers. He would wait for stardom much later on as TV's Peter Gunn.
Dive Bomber should still have appeal for aviation fans everywhere on the planet.
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