Reviews written by registered user
|4 reviews in total|
I was taken by this movie the first time I ever saw it. That was so long ago, I can't even remember when. Paul Douglas as Guffy was superb. Angry, contrite at times, not quite sure what is happening with the angels, but in the end, he is willing to believe. The baseball scenes are pretty realistic. I enjoyed the shots of Forbes Field, as it was always one of my favorite places to watch a ball game. Donna Corcoran and Janet Leigh were both excellent playing their parts. However, the best performance (and most overlooked), was that of Keenan Wynne as the commentator. He played his part so perfectly that you forget this is only a movie. You really wanted to throttle him, the way he denigrated Guffy and the rest of the team. Excellent acting job on his part. James Whitmore did a great job as the voice of the angel, taking no "guff" from Guffy. I enjoyed the scene where Guffy lets his old and tired pitcher (Bruce Bennet) stay in the game, because Whitmore informs Guffy that "We are recruiting him (Bennet) next season." All in all, this was a terrific baseball movie. Yes it was predictable and at times a bit sappy. Having said that, the film was still well done and is certainly a fine movie for family entertainment.
I first saw this film about 30 some-odd years ago on a cable movie
channel called WOMETCO Home Theater. I was lucky enough to remember to
tape it on my old Sony BetaMax!! I then later transferred it to VHS so
I was always able to watch it. I was thrilled, however, when it was
finally released on DVD. I have read Gann's book at least 15 times.
What is truly great about this film is how the characters from the book
were faithfully recreated in the movie. The viewer is drawn to their
troubles and personality quirks immediately. You want to know more
about them and what will happen to them.
John Wayne is outstanding as "Old Dan Roman." A man with a terrible burden, who feels responsible for the deaths of his wife and son, when the plane he was piloting crashed and he was the only survivor. Knowing he had no business being back in the cockpit at his age, taking orders from far younger men, Dan Roman can't stay away from flying machines, even though he agreed with the statement that "It's just a hunk of metal that don't go nowhere in particular." Flying is his life, even though it cost the lives of the two people he loved most dearly.
It was great seeing some of my favorites in this film. Claire Trevor (who garnered an Academy Award as Gay Dawn in Key Largo) was absolutely perfect at May Holst. Loud, bawdy, boisterous, she was perfect. Makes me wish I knew a real May Holst. Ann Doran (from the old Warner Brothers stock company) as Clara Joseph brought the same type of humanity as she did in all of her previous supporting roles in her career. Doe Avedon as Miss Spalding was both charming and seductive in a naive way. Her opening scene at the check-in counter at the airport is great. Standing with Alsop the ticketing agent(played by Douglas Fowley who some may remember as Pvt. "Kip" Kippton in "Battleground," the guy who kept losing his false teeth), we get a running commentary from him on all of the passengers prior to boarding the flight. Miss Spalding is wide-eyed at his comments on these passengers and wants to know how he can be so sure about them. "I know about them because I was a night clerk in a Nevada hotel." All of the characters were human and interesting. This is one of the rare instances where the book really translated very well to the screen.
Robert Stack as pilot John Sullivan presents the air of a man not totally comfortable with what he is doing. He's scared and he knows it, but for obvious reasons won't admit it, even to himself. He not only has to fight the problems with the plane, but he is forced to fight the demons within himself. Dan Roman knows this about Sullivan in his own gut. He's seen it too many times with too many other pilots in his life. We see him debating with himself just how far he will let this go before he decides to step in and take action himself. Not an easy decision given the traditional position that the pilot of an aircraft, like the captain of a ship, is in ultimate command and the entire crew has to be subordinate and carry out his decisions, good or bad. Else, it is mutiny. This is what Roman is wrestling with and the viewer is caught up in how this situation will be resolved.
The music score (and yes the whistling of the theme song), the taut drama played out in the air sealed in an aluminum tube, Wellman's directing, the writing, have all combined to produce a movie that is, and will, remain timeless. Why? Because "The High and the Mighty" is not just a disaster film, it is a film about human nature, human frailty, human failings, and ultimately, human triumph not only over the physical things in life, but the emotional things that claw inside us while trying to get out.
With the possible exception of "In Which We Serve," "The Dam Busters"
ranks as one of the finest British films about WWII. It is told in a
straightforward, semi-documentary manner that keeps the viewer
interested until the final credits roll. Yes, the special effects pale
when compared to today's computer-generated efforts, but when viewed in
the context of the technology available, they still make the point and
come as close to reality as possible.
The two leads, Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave really carry the film Todd is superb as Wing Commander Guy Gibson. Straight to to the issue, no frills, and let's get the job done. He immediately takes on the assignment when asked, without being told of the nature of the mission, the nature of the target, or when it will take place. He gathers his crews and begins the grueling and, at times, terrifying training for a job in which no one has been fully briefed.
Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallace is, if I can use the term, absolutely delightful. There is a naiveté about him that at times seems childlike. His character comes across as the brilliant, but at times, absent-minded professor. When we first encounter him in the film, he is doing some experiments at home with the skip-bombing technique that will be used. He is doing this in his backyard with his children and it is almost like a game to all of them. They are just having the most delightful time trying to come with something that will prove quite deadly when perfected. Often talking to himself and seemingly wandering around lost in thought, one of his best lines in the film comes when he tells a representative from the Aircraft Ministry that he will need a Wellington bomber for the early tests. The Ministry official asks him: "What can I possibly tell them that will let them justify you getting a Wellington bomber?" With a perfectly straight face and and air of ingenuousness, Redgrave, as Barnes replies: "Perhpas if you told them I designed it?" Priceless!! Eventually solving one seemingly insurmountable problem after another, the film moves on to the night of the raids. We are waiting, as dusk falls, with the bomber crews out by their planes for the takeoff signal. We see them thunder in at terrifyingly low level over the enemy coast. We are waiting in the communications center with Barnes Wallace and the others for any word over the wireless.
We face the tension as the big Lancasters swing out over the dams and start their bomb runs one at time, being fired on by heavy anti-aircraft fire along the tops of the dams. The excitement when the bombs perform as designed. The ecstatic shouts radioed back to HQ. Then the initial dismay as one bomb after another seemingly fails to breach the dams. Gibson's and Barnes Wallace's disappointment when the dams are still intact. Finally, we see the first rivulet of water and then the torrent as the dams burst wide open and water floods the valleys below.
Barnes Wallace's initial reaction is quiet joy and then grief as he realizes the number of planes shot down and men lost to this mission. His comment that he wouldn't have done this if he realized that so many lives would be lost. This is in stark reaction to the military men who realize the price that must be paid for victory.
The 617 Squadron went on to carry out other special missions in WWII. The book, "The Dam Busters," points out that 617 Squadron had the highest loss rate of men and planes of any RAF bomber squadron. Not surprising when looking at their missions such as attacking rail bridges, docks, tunnels, etc. Quite often they used other types of bombs that were also developed by Barnes Wallace.
I enjoy this film every time I see it. It is my favorite British WW II film. Certainly much better than "Sink the Bismark." It shows the emotional as well as the combat side of war. How people think, how they interact, how they feel. Something that is lacking in many war films that rely strictly on great battle scenes to carry the day. "The Dam Busters" still stands today as a great and fitting tribute to the men and machines that destroyed the German dams.
"They Were Expendable" could also be termed "They Were Underrated." Of all the films made during and immediately after World War II, this one ranks as one of the greatest, and least mentioned. Perhaps because it deals with defeat rather than victory; loss rather than gain; John Wayne failing, rather than succeeding. This film deals with emotions rather than with flat-out action and battle scenes. The theme, so well put out by Ford and his cast, is that this is the lot of the professional military man: when war breaks out, they fight, die, and hold the line until the country fully mobilizes its forces against the enemy. The entire cast conveys, at the same time, a naive optimism and a stoic resignation to their fate. They continue to fight, knowing that reinforcements are not coming, and that their destiny will either be death or captivity at the hands of the Japanese. Watching this film one feels the despair, the heat, the dust, the almost hopelessness of their actions. The question becomes "What kind of men and women would do this, and not desert their posts?" "They Were Expendable" speaks eloquently not only for the defenders of the Philippines, but the brave souls who fought gallantly at Midway, Wake, and Guam. Outnumbered and out gunned, they fought on with no hope of relief or victory. The final scenes of the movie, where Wayne and Montgomery are sitting in tattered rags on the side of a dusty dirt road watching a convoy move past, is stunning in its simplicity. There is almost no dialog in this scene; just a quiet resignation that it is all but over. Their crews are now infantry, their boats are either sunk or handed over to the Army. Only fate at the last minute spares them what awaits their shipmates and fellows-in-arms with the coming surrender. Aboard the airplane that is the last to leave the island, character actor Leon Ames, who got aboard and then has to leave because the last two passengers showed up late, sums up the courage of all who were left behind when he simply asks someone to deliver a message to his wife. He then gets off the plane without a complaint. Truly John Ford directed just more than a war film here; he directed a gallant and heartfelt tribute to America's fighting men and women everywhere.