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Wing and a Prayer (1944)

Approved | | Action, Drama, War | 11 January 1945 (Argentina)
An aircraft carrier is sent on a decoy mission around the Pacific, with orders to avoid combat, thus lulling Japanese alertness before the battle of Midway. All the men have their ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. Cmdr. Edward Moulton
Ens. Hallam 'Oscar' Scott
Admiral (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Kevin O'Shea ...
Ens. Charles 'Cookie' Cunningham
Beezy Bessemer
Ens. Malcolm Brainard (as Henry Morgan)
Ens. Gus Chisholm
Executive Officer
Ens. Cliff Hale
Ens. Paducah Holloway
Cmdr. O'Donnell
B.S. Pully ...
Flat Top


An aircraft carrier is sent on a decoy mission around the Pacific, with orders to avoid combat, thus lulling Japanese alertness before the battle of Midway. All the men have their individual worries and concerns, but become increasingly frustrated at their avoidance of combat, for reasons unknown to them. But in the end, all get their chance to fight. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE MOST DANGEROUS MISSION IN THE WAR! (original ad - all caps) See more »


Action | Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

11 January 1945 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Queen of the Flat Tops  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)


(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The men are watching the movie Tin Pan Alley starring Alice Faye, the singer/actress who both Dana Andrews and Charles Bickford would star with in Otto Preminger's Fallen Angel the following year, 1945. See more »


The wall-map of the world in the opening scene is wildly inaccurate. See more »


Lt. Cmdr. Edward Moulton: Didn't you see the wave off?
Ens. Hallam 'Oscar' Scott: Yes sir, I did.
Lt. Cmdr. Edward Moulton: What did you think the flag man was doing? Waving bye bye?
See more »


Features The Battle of Midway (1942) See more »


Music by Daniel Butterfield
See more »

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User Reviews

A strong formula film--characters are set up, and then sent to battle...
3 August 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Wing and a Prayer (1944)

This is a Navy film made in 1944, set in early 1942. That says a lot to start--it's realistic, but it's also meant for support the troops, support the families back home, and avoid giving the enemy any information that might hurt the U.S. This one is set in the Pacific on an aircraft carrier, so there are both conventional sailors as well as pilots. Much of the movie is about ordinary down time, which builds up the interpersonal stuff, and gives the range of types on the ship--up to a limit (no minorities, for example).

There were a lot of movies made during the war about the war, and most employed a star or two to give them an audience. Here we have Dana Andrews, already a stalwart at this early point in his career, and Don Ameche, who was the bigger name at the time. But what makes the movies distinctive beyond this is always some twist, some specific aspect of the war that gets highlighted. The main one here is the ship is on a special mission to head toward the fringes of Japanese controlled water and give the impression that the U.S. Navy is scared and incompetent.

This makes for a lot of tension after awhile because the men really want to fight, and they are told to turn away. It's an interesting angle (with not a lot of historical truth to it, apparently). But it shows in part how the Navy had highly sophisticated plans that the average Joe couldn't and didn't know about. And so everyone should just be confident, everyone including all the folks watching it on Main Street, far from being able to help or knowing the truth.

The other unique twist is that one of the pilots is an Academy Award Winning actor. It's clear from the first action scene that he's not really competent, but he's cute and popular, gets lots of mail, and he carries his Oscar statuette with him everyone (including on missions). A fun Hollywood twist...and of course, it isn't left alone. All of this, the ruse, the actor, the whole waiting game, is a set up for a spectacular finish.

Trivia notes: There is a 16mm movie shown to the troops during fun time, and it's called "Tin Pan Alley," a 1940 Betty Grable flick with lots of flesh. It's naturally a hit with the men. And it's streamable on Netflix. Naturally I had to watch it...so look for my review of that one, too. Not half bad, but…. one of the moments that is a surprise (and a deflection) is when a plane takes off and crashes, and during some of the shots of the rescue there are mistakenly other ships in the distance.

That last 20 minutes is great war film stuff, including a unique section where the action is told only through sound. It's a small but brilliant addition to a strong, somewhat straight forward film.

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