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Standard service triangle film centered around the United States Marine Corp (U.S.M.C.) and its Aviator training program, circa 1935. Warner Brothers (WB) standby director Lloyd Bacon provides his usual workmen like effort in another air oriented screenplay by John Monk Saunders. If it is in the 'air' either Saunders or Frank 'Spig' Wead was going to have a hand in it. Their plots are so similar as to be interchangeable.
The Nuts; Lieut. Bill Brannigan (Pat O'Brien) invites friend and hotshot pilot Tommy O'Toole (James Cagney) to join the U.S.M.C. Reserve Aviator training program. O'Toole arrives and promptly starts to move in on Brannigans main squeeze, Betty Roberts (Margaret Lindsay) and get under everybody else's skin. Usual competition in the air and for the attentions of Betty with a predictable conclusion.
The film featured the usual complement of the WBs contract players all who do a competent job. Except, Frank McHugh, who normally provides light comedy relief. In this film though he was way over the top and irritating, so bad that you wanted him to walk into a propeller (rotating). O'Brien also seemed too earnest, shouting most of his lines while Cagney was a little to coy. Margaret Lindsay a attractive and competent actress made the most her role. Ms. Lindsay by her own admission only took her career as seriously as it needed to be without the drive of Crawford, Davis, De Havilland or Stanwyck.
The best part of the film had little to do with the principals, but actual maneuvers (wargames) by the United States Navy (U.S.N.) and the U.S.M.C. In the film the U.S.N. represented the BLUE Force (true) while the enemy was BROWN Force (misnomer). Those familiar with WAR PLAN ORANGE know that the BROWN Force was actual ORANGE, Imperial Japan. The ORANGE (and other) war plans were a series of studies initiated by Theodore Roosevelt when he was Under Secretary of the Navy. They were continuously gamed and updated to reflect changing requirements and technology, up to their absorption by RAINBOW FIVE, war on a global scale. Watching the filmed maneuvers you can easily pick up on what the U.S.N. was doing and how it applies even today. For more detailed knowledge consult WAR PLAN ORANGE: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan 1897-1945 by Edward S. Miller.
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