6.4/10
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11 user 3 critic

Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air (1942)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 19 October 1942 (USA)
A veteran American flyer trains new recruits, including the acrophobic son of his dead war buddy. Complications arise when the younger man falls in love with his mentor's girl.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (original story) (as Melville Crossman)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Steve Britt
...
Peter Stackhouse
...
Colonel MacDonald
...
Lady Jane Stackhouse
George Barbier ...
Col. Cyrus P. 'Gramps' Saunders
...
George Lockwood
...
Barrett
Ted North ...
Cadet Hackzell
Janis Carter ...
Blonde Red Cross Nurse Trainee
...
Doctor
Viola Moore ...
Nurse
Nana Bryant ...
Mrs. Blake
...
Saleswoman
...
Nurse
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Storyline

Technicolor tale of honor and romance. This drama from 1942 was directed by Oscar-winner William A. Wellman, and features stunning aerial photography, that was highly advanced for the time. John Sutton stars as Peter Stackhouse, a British aviophobe who is nonetheless determined to become a pilot. Stackhouse's resolution comes from his desire to serve his country, and his strength is recognized by Steve Britt (Preston Foster), who becomes his patient teacher. The two men's bond is tested, however, when they both fall for the same girl (Gene Tierney). Written by R. Alberts

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

For two pilots, one woman became a conflict of interest.

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 October 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Tommy in the U.S.A.  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film takes place entirely in Arizona, but the theme running throughout the movie, including the party scene, is the song "Deep in the Heart of Texas." See more »

Quotes

Peter Stackhouse: I hope you're not angry?
Kay Saunders: That you were interested in my legs? Why not at all. That's what they're there for.
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Soundtracks

Deep in the Heart of Texas
(uncredited)
Lyrics by June Hershey
Music by Don Swander
Played when Steve tells Gramps he's going to be living right next door
Played often in the score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Viewer likes Technicolor flying shots and delightful story line
30 June 1999 | by (Riverside, California) – See all my reviews

A well done Technicolor story about flight training at Thunderbird Field, Arizona in 1942 at the height of WWII. Great cast of supporting players, with main stars Gene Tierney, Preston Foster, and John Sutton well suited for their roles. Beautiful flying shots with the Arizona desert as background. The dialogue in some spots is not too realistic in terms of aviation, e.g. when Preston Foster, playing the role of a civilian flight instructor at a military training school exclaims that a student's "motor conked out" while viewing the incident from the ground with his former sweetheart, Gene Tierney. Hilarious scene early in the movie where civilians are learning to be "civilian defense" first aid workers: Preston Foster, leg in cast, is loaded into an ambulance that then races away with the back door unlatched ejecting him out the back door and allowing him to fall attached to a stretcher onto the street. Touching brave sentiments portrayed by famed English actress, Dame May Whitty, on the loss of her son in combat. Jack Holt as the C.O. of the school, and Reginald Denny, as the British officer in charge of English cadets, add greatly to the overall quality of the picture, and Holt's facial expressions when he is dancing with Gene Tierney are particularly funny in the dance scene late in the picture. Peter Lawford has an uncredited bit part as a cadet in the movie. Overall, a very enjoyable movie if the viewer is interested in WWII aviation pictures, especially for the color quality.

TRIVIA NOTE: Famed aviation ace Richard Bong is one of the pilots flying the formation of North American AT-6s ("Texans") in the movie (uncredited), done before he shipped out to the Pacific to become the "Ace of Aces" by shooting down 40 Japanese planes, more than any other US pilot in WWII. (He died 8/6/45 at Burbank, California while taking off in a P-80 "Shooting Star" jet which lost power on takeoff.)

GOOF: in the water tower scene early in movie, Preston Foster, in a trainer from the base, buzzes water-bathing Gene Tierney and drops her his flight suit from the plane to use for cover/clothing when she gets out of the water tower. Film editing mistake shows her catching the flight suit, but then a shot of Foster's plane flying away shows the flight suit being thrown out from the plane (after she already has it!).


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