|Index||3 reviews in total|
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
"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.
The Aircraft in the movie is a B-24 Liberator and not a B-17 Flying Fortress. The B-17 was the first long range heavy bomber used by the U.S.A.A.F. The B-24 could carry a heavier bomb load. The B-24 could fly longer range than the B-17, which is was designed to augment in the arsenal of air power. The rear gun position did not look as in the movie, but was probably used to allow the viewer to see Burgess Meredith. The top turret shown in the film was never used on the B-24 or the B-17. That turret would have been found on the Martin bomber of the 30s and not used afterwards. In several shots they also showed Lockheed Hudsons as the bomber being flown. Hudsons were used greatly by the Brits, especially in their "moonlight squadron" operations. Agents were flown in Hudsons to occupied territory in the Hudson, although this was not the only use for the Hudson. A multitude of craft were used to parachute them.
"A short film bout a B-17 gunner starring Burgess Meredith and Ronald
Reagan. Approximately 20 minutes - B & W."
I guess, back in 1943, you were supposed to join the armed forces after seeing this short film. It's pretty much a recruitment film. Meredith plays a stuttering soldier who finds his place as a rear gunner aboard a B-17. Ronald Reagan plays the part of the pilot.
I found this film on a DVD of WWII films that I bought at Wal-Mart for about five dollars.
It's a great film to make fun of with your friends. Just imagine all the lines from Rocky and Grumpy Old Men that you can quote while watching Meredith shoot down Japanese fighters over the Pacific.
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