The scene where Keenan Wynn's character is killed in a crash landing on the carrier, the footage is the actual accident of a F9F during one of its early test flights. On June 23, 1951, pilot George Duncan hit an air pocket just before landing on the USS Midway. The pocket dropped the plane but he managed to keep the nose up at the time of impact, severing the plane and expelling the plane's cockpit onto the carrier deck as a fireball erupted behind him. Except for burning his ears, Duncan survived the crash. See more »
In some of actual war scenes where rockets are supposedly being fired by the jets, they are actually being fired by Corsairs (propeller aircraft). See more »
If you don't mind mid-fifties melodrama, there's a whole lot of good action, suspense, and some nice, patriotic touches in Men of the Fighting Lady, an 80 minute long recruitment poster for being a fighter-bomber pilot, especially in an unpopular war. There's actually so much as-realistic-as-you-can-get-for-1954 action in the movie that the human element almost trips up the gun-camera footage of things being strafed and napalmed.
Yet, even if you find the talk-talk irritating (I didn't because it rang true), you can't dismiss the home movie sent to the air group on the carrier for Christmas or the blinded Panther pilot fumbling with a morphine syringe, trying to drive back the pain of his injuries so he can listen to his wingman talk him down.
I'd tune in the next time Turner Classic Movies shows Men of the Fighting Lady, and even if you don't believe in the Iraq War, you'll really get a taste of the flesh and blood reality of being a carrier pilot, dropping ordnance on things that don't seem particularly important to blow up.
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