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Joseph J. Clark
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Documentary-style drama on training of aerial rear gunners in World War II. Private PeeWee Williams, a Kansas farm boy, transforms his home-grown shooting skills into those necessary to an aerial gunner in the tail turret of: an American bomber. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Burgess Meredith and actual Lieutenant in the US Army Air Corps at the time of filming (Later reached the rank of Captain) portrayed a Private in the movie and was promoted to Corporal late in the movie. See more »
The gunnery schools are always on the lookout for men short on height but long on ambition.
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Great example of how Hollywood helped to win the war
Following Pearl Harbor, Hollywood rushed to turn out films that would help to win the war. They produced more than features. There were countless cartoons and short subjects that were intended to inform the public, boost morale, encourage support of the Red Cross and other organizations that were helping at home and over seas or recruit men into the service. There were also films that were shown only to members of the armed forces. These films either trained them or entertained them.
"Rear Gunner" is one of the best examples of how Hollywood pitched in and worked to boost morale and also recruit men into the service. It has a mission and it does it with pride and a very solid conviction. This film is a real time machine of its era showing the American attitude towards the war. It is also interesting to get a glimpse of just what a rear gunner did and how he learned to do it.
Burgess Meredith was one of the finest and most versatile film actors of the 20th century. Unfortunately most people today know him only for his appearance in the "Grumpy Old Men" films. In "Rear Gunner" he takes a part that is about as standard as they come. There's very little in the words to indicate anything about Pee-Wee's personality. But Meredith takes this shallow part and makes Pee-Wee a real guy. He's quiet and smart without a hint of arrogance, exactly the kind of guy Americans at least claimed to admire then. And Pee-Wee's gentle stutter works well because Meredith soft pedals it thus making it seem real.
"Rear Gunner" allows us to reach through the screen and touch the American mind from WWII. It also happens to be entertaining.
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