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Air America

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32 reviews in total 
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Day One (1989) (TV)
1 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
A Poor Rendition, 19 April 2010
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found this quite a disappointment after seeing other films. Many thoughts are introduced but not explained. A very thin story line which seems to have wandering parts. It appears to have been very darkly (lighting) shot, especially among the army uniforms to try to conceal that correct military jackets and other apparel was not sought out.

The central character of any film in the atomic development is Dr. Oppenheimer and he seems to be reduced to a pipe smoking poor choice of a character instead of the commanding presence he was and of the many contributions he took part in, in the scientific equations. I thought the choice of portrayals of principals such as David Ogden Stires as President Roosevelt was a great diminution of FDR's extremely important role. Many parts central to the story are only minimally touched upon.

The building the sites at Hanford and Oak Ridge is not even explained. Plutonium is said to be existing in thin air instead of as a transuranic element produced by of bombardment by a radioactive source such as a form of uranium with neutrons. In all, I found this to be very poorly done, though perhaps understandable because it was meant for and likely had little television exposure. Buy another film available if you want to see ample storytelling with any degree of accuracy.

Military Accuracy and an Applaudable, Visionary Film, 10 April 2010
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hoorah! It is refreshing to see a film where military uniforms and badges of rank are, it seems, are intended to be worn properly. In many films it seems the dresser places a Brigadier General's stars out on the sewed-down portion of the epaulet as is done with lower officer ranks. This is always incorrect. Todays Class A uniforms still offer this choice but for many services, they now have a slip-over sleeve with the rank on it that goes over the epaulet as seen on a shirt worn when the jacket is not worn, so with these, an error is not possible.

In later views about twenty minutes into the film the stars were put out on the sewed-down portion of the epaulet. The dark brown dress jacket first seen at a later time also had wrong placement of the distinctive single star. It seems without constant supervision of shooting or writing out instructions, this error occurs on a General's star(s) more often than not. At about thirty-five minutes they are back, centered on the Class A dark brown top. Apparently the one who had been instructed in proper display was not always the one in charge of the uniforms. This was a sad note to see introduced into such a fine film.

I am always surprised to see this because almost any military man knows this. The General's star placement is done differently for a number of reasons, one likely being that his rank, above all others, is instantly discernible even with a greater distance.

Many good reviews are written about this film, I just thought the military accuracy due our serving men and women should be given the correctness the uniform deserves.

It was very refreshing too, seeing Dr. Oppenheimer's driving to a location he loved and was instrumental in choosing, in that fine, perfectly restored, beautiful vintage yellow Packard convertible.

I thought another comment was appropriate by this observer. Though there may not have been any physicists or other highly placed scientists of color, if one looks very carefully as I did, you will see an American of African Heritage as an attendant in an ambulance and helping load a box diagonally stenciled "OAK RIDGE."Similarly, close observation shows a person of Latin heritage and a person of native American heritage.

A comment and dismissal to Michael Merriman of no romantic interest with Nurse Kathleen Robinson and Dr. Schoenfield's attention directed seemingly unexplained elsewhere which may simply be to maintain professional distinction but he is never seen in the film with a woman so it might be meant to give a hint of his lack of interest in the opposite sex.

I found the incorporation of these attentiveness issues to be quite appropriate given the many considerations in this film, religion notwithstanding. I also noticed a derogatory term applying to the Japanese was noticeably nearly missing and was heard used only twice, and in the Pentagon. I applaud those connected with the film for this sensitivity. It is a very commendable and often overlooked.

This is a very good film with much of the physics shown accurately depicted; heard and seen in discussions. Very minimally touched upon was the major contribution made on the plutonium bomb with "shaped charges" designed for armor-penetrating ordinance. This and other accomplishments were much a part of the many earlier trial and error work of our British and Canadian allies though their program code named "Tube Alloys." It had been going on for a much longer time actually beginning in 1939 with the French seeing the need for a moderator of the reaction, then done with "heavy water." Knowledge of this by even the Germans was one of the reasons they had occupied Norway with Europe's only "heavy water" plant in Norsk, Norway. But the British and Canadians began with exiled German scientists in 1940, with their knowledge of many specifics. It seems our own "Manhattan Project's" beginning was among the last since it was known in these other countries where here it only began after it languished with a few thousand dollars funding and almost no research since Professors Szilárd and Einstein's letter to President Roosevelt in August, 1939. Even the Japanese had theorized the possibility of making an atomic bomb many years previously in 1934. Historically interesting was Einstein's unspoken thought that the process leading to making a destructive device such as a bomb, never even occurred to him." Thankfully, German scientist's religion had effectively doomed Germany's progress toward making a bomb.

I was very impressed with John Cusak's willingness to see accuracy shown; submitting to the loss of much of his hair for reality in the film. Though as a physician I was quite upset showing his intense suffering though this may have been done to make a point. I would hope that one so massively destroyed with radiation would have had most of the extreme suffering removed with the adequate use of morphine.

These scenes do have a basis in reality with unnamed hero, Armenian-heritage Harry K. Daghlian, Jr. during necessary testing, accidentally causing what is called a "nuclear excursion" when he dropped near critical-mass pieces together which required him to use and expose his "ungloved" hands to separate the then critical mass nuclear components and expose his whole body to the massively fatal radiation source. In 1946 Louis Slotin also died of a similar accident and these are mentioned in this review principally to show the testing in uncharted territory and done with the crudest of methods as shown very accurately in the film, using just a screwdriver.

Many perspectives and the fantastic development of its story and its telling are of the highest order not often seen in a film. It gets high marks from me.

X-15 (1961)
A Major Disappointment II, 5 April 2010
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to agree, the filming in this is just short of unwatchable. Whose idea was it to stretch out a film's segment to fit the 2.35:1 screen? This could have been a good film but it is like sitting in some doctor's or other office where they stretch out a 4:3 broadcast to fill a 16:9 screen. Many scenes cannot even be adjusted with the screen choices on my TV which allows format choices. B-52s and F-100s one and a half times their length in reality. An out-of-round X-15 rocket nozzle . . .

Its a fair story. I see the often used picture of an F-100 losing flight control and ending up cartwheeling in flames is shown as seen in other films.

It would have been acceptable to just leave the 4:3 screen film stock alone instead of stretching it. I hope there are no more films done this way. I have seen a lot of films but this is the first time I ever saw this resorted to. A very poor rendition is the obvious result.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Overly Criticized, 24 November 2009
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While reading just a few of the comments, I experienced great anguish at the "armchair warriors," or, those I regard as "warriors," criticizing this film. It is a compelling story yes, and maybe only 5-10-15% of the depictions were a complete re-creation, accurate in every detail. The idea was entertainment, and I give the makers of this film a very big hand. First of all, this happened one December morning I either remember parts of while visiting (as folks did back in 1941) or that I revere very highly among all of the other actual recollections in my life. I treasure seeing this and other historically founded films. The producers of this piece tell that many depictions are composites of actual events for sake of placing diverse events and important results into a deserved perspective.

I want to start by saying that I am surprised the Navy even gave Doris "Dorrie" Miller the decoration he received; the Navy Cross. This was 1941 and a segregated military was still the national model. It seems likely that if this happened after 1990 or 2000, that he might have been awarded the Medal of Honor. On the face of it, others who remained at their station and who performed similar gallantry did receive the Medal of Honor. No doubt they deserved theirs, and I see that this is not a solitary view as this is the view of a writer at encyclopedia.com. I hope the President and members of Congress see fit to upgrade this award for him.

I was astonished at the details covered by this film. The amount of work to just do the flames and explosions is beyond belief.

There is a large effort apparent by the stunt persons who acted in the production. Mentioned are the feet of primer cord, dynamite and gasoline used in the film. The arsenal and ordinance expenditure used in this film I feel sure, exceed the GNP of small provinces and it all had to be paid for on the gamble that it would be shown enough to just come out even. That it was overlooked for Oscar® nomination or award receiving only the "Best Sound Content" award seems very surprising.

Having been a training flight instructor I have even greater respect for the men (and perhaps women) who flew their aircraft between actual ships just feet above the water where any minor miscalculation would not have been survived. The scene where tho two childhood pals, Rafe and Danny played chicken does not look like a computer generated piece. Maybe parts of it were manipulated, but undoubtedly the actual head-on closing speed of what must have been 400+ mph is real as well as the maneuver to first roll one direction and suddenly change to the opposite direction and then do this clear of each other. I am sure the slightest mistake would have erased two men's lives and retired two old war birds. A big hand for the pilots and certainly for their bravery and for whatever they were paid to do this. It must have required many rehearsals and many spine-tingling moments-to-hours expended by the pilots and undoubtedly, backup crews were also used in order to insure the shooting schedule.

A lot of ingenuity is apparent when seeing the battle scenes and later viewing the special effects section on the second disk. While others have been critical of this film to extremes, it receives my highest regard and respect. Gor another similar topic to come to the screen soon is very unlikely. unlikely.

Dragstrip Girl (1994) (TV)
A Memory from My Past, 12 August 2009
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was hard to rate this fairly because I grew up in 1957 and drove a hot rod '33 Ford with a hopped-up '47 Ford flathead. We lived to race the rich kids with the '57 Chevys and '58 Corvettes. The story line was very near to how things were in 1957 only we did not boost cars and strip for parts, just an occasional "midnight requisition" of a Stromberg carburetor or some linkage or maybe some chrome from the local salvage yard. I had Latino friends too in a nearby city who ran a custom car body shop and from whom I learned to work lead with a paddle. I also saw much fact in the "dragstrip" activities only we used a diagonal highway outside our town. We usually scoped out the local State Trooper to be sure he was not working.

The Los Angeles connection made it reminiscent of her mother and how Natasha Richardson Wagner's mother, Natalie Wood also served to flag two drag racers in "Rebel Without A Cause," which became a cult classic for us. The story was pure screenwriter work contrasting the "haves" with the "have-nots" and the similar ending involving a death. This part I thought was done particularly well avoiding to much racism, though it was touched on. I thought the acting was fairly good given this was early roles for most of the actors. In all, I recommend it for a nostalgia factor but today's hip-hop crowd may find it too juvenile. I believe you old people like me will like it also.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Who is the tenor, 15 January 2009
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Who is singing the duet with Maria Callas in the Paris 1958 recital. It is an aria from Il Trovatore, Misere d'un'alma già vicina? I'm betting it is Renato Cioni, whose voice is compared to "sheep bleating."

This is said to be one of her better performances, but I wish the businessmen or others who are talking while she is performing had gone elsewhere. Or else keep their comments to themselves so as not to spoil her performance.

Some of the same "discussions" can be heard in La Traviata and though I brought this to the attention of EMI who owns all of the rights and does remastering, these have remained. Otherwise, fine performances.

8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A Treat to See Again; A Quest Completed, 13 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This telecast used to come on at 4:00 PM our local time. I had just started in a rural practice my first year out of medical school as a physician assistant. I used to catch glimpses of the series each day during afternoon rounds, but seldom did I get to see an entire episode.

I was grateful that full seasons were available on DVD. Since I finished my quest to acquire some of these, I have been watching them observing their principal features; getting a lot of enjoyment from the realism of the plots and the pursuits used to make diagnoses in those times. Realism was also very, very faithful. Only once did I note that a couple of amps of sodium bicarbonate were not given following an episode of cardiac arrest. And in an early episode I saw an elderly patient who was dehydrated given D5 and ½ Normal Saline so it was not all D5&W or Ringer's Lactate.

Quite enjoyable is seeing the technology and equipment in use at the time, (not to mention the clothing we wore then: polyester shirts and double-knit trousers). As one of the first PAs, we were taught to employ even more ancient technology at a time when physicians actually touched their patients instead of reviewing test results. An example was the use of chest percussion to evaluate lung condition and heart size. The further use of abdominal palpation and percussion to determine liver size, locate areas possibly containing fluid, and the use of the other senses such as observing the patient's coloration, and the particulars of smell such as might occur with exposure to foreign agents.

I had forgotten the ancient Datascope™ cathode ray tube monitor that one had to really concentrate on to recognize the electrical processes going on within the heart. Other ancient CRT systems were used and only recently did I see the same style of equipment one viewed in early days of a heart echocardiogram and skull echoencephalogram. Today we especially appreciate having the modern automated blood pressure apparatus, the likewise modern method of obtaining body temperature, pulse and respiration, oxygen saturation and the modern twelve lead EKG taken all leads simultaneously, and all seen on one sheet.

Too, it is a trip into the past to hear the names and uses of older medications which have been largely replaced today. Today the common aspirin can have life-saving properties when chewed and swallowed during an acute episode of chest pain due to arterial compromise. Another medication is still used which goes back centuries, and is the best pain reliever known, morphine sulfate. Conversely, I saw an earlier episode of poisoning of a child who ingested the wild version of the ancient poison used by Socrates, hemlock.

One of the first things interestingly noted is the apparent absence of use of the then commonly available rudimentary automobile seat belt. In 1974 I did not have a newer car, being too poor, but my old 1970 Chevy did have seat belts. In each episode you see Gage and DeSoto bolting into the Dodge, putting on their fireman's hats, and roaring off to the scene.

I have to comment on the acting skills of physicians Dr. Brackett, Dr. Early and RN nurse McCall. I seem to remember that Robert Fuller's earlier acting life had principally been in western films. I have to say that both of these physician-surgeons did justice to their high honors as Fellows of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), though seldom seen in actual operating room surgery scenes. Today the emergency physicians most likely are Fellows of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), which by the way, was even around in 1968 though trained, board certified physicians in the specialty were still in a minority.

Julie London is particularly memorable, having first known of her as what came to be called a "torch-singer," and a principal one who succeeded greatly in the recording industries. Her albums continue to sell and entertain today, probably 50 years after they were recorded. A particular effort was noticeably made by the writers to portray her breakthroughs in reaching significantly proper conclusions and discerning facts.

Having been one of the first five hundred PAs, I have an understanding of the problems facing the early EMTs. Today they fill expanded roles and are permitted to function in a similar manner as PAs, using their education and training to make decisions in the field and to initiate many life-saving procedures without first getting "permission" from a supervising physician. Like us, they do follow established protocols and are also said to be under physician supervision at all times, though this does not mean they have to be supervised "over-the-shoulder" as in earlier times such as during training.

I am not completely through the first season of episodes I received, which unfortunately came out-of-order, and I look forward to seeing the first season when it arrives. Likely I will complete the set as I have a lot of time to view material now, having been retired for 8 years. I was not a youngster when I began my education at Wichita State University in 1973.

It is also noteworthy to follow the changes in the emergency transport vehicles from the old style Hearse-types, to a similar version with an extended upper roofline. Then the first two-tiered stretcher square-shaped van, becoming later seen as the full size custom made coachwork of the modern mobile intensive care capable vehicles in general use today in most locales on North America.

I highly recommend this series and echo most of the remarks made by earlier writers such as how it was the landmark presentation whose success made succeeding series possible and of interest to us viewers. My hat is off to all who had any hand in the production of Emergency! Thanks all!

U-571 (2000)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
SImple Logic, 8 April 2007
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The "unreachable" air valve in the bilge. What reasonable sailor would not have simply used a belt or a bent piece of wire to reach it the first time? Sure, his air line was short but he could have extended his reach a meter or more with just a bent piece of wire, looped cable or almost anything and slipped it over the handle which we saw was pulled toward him a quarter of a turn to open it to air flow. This is a major stretch of the imagination that someone would have failed and reported this to his commanding officer and then went back down to his death when incoming rounds destroyed the encroaching pipes as later seen which enabled him to reach it but to be trapped and die. To me, it is just a display of total abandoning simple logic.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A Patriot Keeps Silent, 7 April 2007

There are many memorable events in this movie, memorable events he remembered, overcoming childhood fears, his education, later service to his country and loyalty to his Commander-in-Chief. I found it particularly interesting that in his early life, his housekeeper was of German ancestry and how she exposed young Gordon to German broadcasts which stayed with him. How later in life he used some of this to his benefit such as singing "Die Fahne Hoch" in the prison shower, completely confounding and overpowering the aggressors. Later, his showing of the then prohibited "Triumph of the Will" to his workforce as the premier propaganda film and the compelling example of control. Always victorious, he even converted prison degradation into an asset. Right or wrong, one must salute him for his honor. Few like him ever pass our way.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Seen Before Medical School, 7 April 2007
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Though a comment was previously deleted; likely because of the mention of the common name of a disease prominent to the time (I can hazard, no other guess as to the reason); this must really be a unique movie, and I will be on the edge of my seat to view it again and possess the disk for further viewings. It broke the mold for the Hayes censor board with the-then unpardonable mention of Lue's. For Dr. Erlich to persist through 606 compilations is astonishing.

An interesting "medical" maxim bringing levity to observers of hip radiographs in some oldsters even as late as the 1960's; often a radiolucent area was noted at the injection sites of the arsenical/mercurial. We used to say, "One night with Venus, and seven years with Mercury," a reference to "exposure" and the subsequent treatment and its length of time and the signs left behind.


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