6.8/10
3,006
36 user 26 critic

Flying Tigers (1942)

Approved | | Action, Drama, Romance | 8 October 1942 (USA)
Capt. Jim Gordon's command of the famed American mercenary fighter group in China is complicated by the recruitment of an old friend who is a reckless hotshot.

Director:

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 3 Oscars. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

During WW2, the U.S. Navy implements a new idea of forming construction battalions that also are fighting units, in case of Japanese attack.

Director: Edward Ludwig
Stars: John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Dennis O'Keefe
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Major Kirby leads The Wildcats squadron into the historic WWII battle of Guadalcanal.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Don Taylor
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In 1942, after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese, U.S. Army Col. Joseph Madden stays behind to organize the local resistance against the Japanese invaders.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: John Wayne, Anthony Quinn, Beulah Bondi
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

During the 1860s in the South Pacific, Capt. Ralls, skipper of the Red Witch, has a series of adventures involving sunken gold bullion, pearls, natives, an unscrupulous ship owner and a giant octopus.

Director: Edward Ludwig
Stars: John Wayne, Gail Russell, Gig Young
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

During WWII, a submarine's second in command inherits the problem of torpedoes that don't explode. When on shore, he is eager to win back his ex-wife.

Director: George Waggner
Stars: John Wayne, Patricia Neal, Ward Bond
Action | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A dramatization of the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima.

Director: Allan Dwan
Stars: John Wayne, John Agar, Adele Mara
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In 1818 Alabama, French settlers are pitted against greedy land-grabber Blake Randolph but Kentucky militiaman John Breen, who's smitten with French gal Fleurette De Marchand, comes to the settlers' aid.

Director: George Waggner
Stars: John Wayne, Vera Ralston, Philip Dorn
Musical | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Duke falls for Flaxen in the Barbary Coast in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. He loses money to crooked gambler Tito, goes home and PL: learns to gamble, and returns. After he makes a ... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Kane
Stars: John Wayne, Ann Dvorak, Joseph Schildkraut
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The PT boat unit Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three defends the Philippines from Japanese invasion during World War II.

Directors: John Ford, Robert Montgomery
Stars: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a commercial airliner develops engine problems on a trans-Pacific flight and the pilot loses his nerve, it is up to the washed-up co-pilot Dan Roman to bring the plane in safely.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Laraine Day
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A biography of Navy flier-turned-screenwriter Frank W. "Spig" Read.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Dan Dailey
Hellfighters (1968)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The story of macho oil well firefighters and their wives.

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Stars: John Wayne, Katharine Ross, Jim Hutton
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Capt. Jim Gordon
... Woody Jason
... Brooke Elliott
... Hap Davis
... Alabama Smith
... Verna Bales
... Col. Lindsay
... Blackie Bales
... Dale
... Reardon
Malcolm 'Bud' McTaggart ... McCurdy (as Malcolm'Bud'McTaggart)
... Lt. Barton
... Mike
... McIntosh (as James Dodd)
... Tex Norton
Edit

Storyline

Jim Gordon commands a unit of the famed Flying Tigers, the American Volunteer Group which fought the Japanese in China before America's entry into World War II. Gordon must send his outnumbered band of fighter pilots out against overwhelming odds while juggling the disparate personalities and problems of his fellow flyers. In particular, he must handle the difficulties created by a reckless hot-shot pilot named Woody Jason, who not only wants to fight a one-man war but to waltz off with Gordon's girlfriend. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HEADED For The Greatest Entertainment Ovation Given A Motion Pictures in Years See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 October 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Yanks Over Singapore  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The transport aircraft used in the bridge bombing scene towards the end of the movie was a Capelis XC-12, a failed prototype from the mid-1930s. The one in the movie is the only one that was ever built, purchased by RKO Studios in 1939. It was in non-flyable condition and was used as a prop in two other RKO war movies: 'Five Came Back' and 'The Immortal Sergeant'. The flying sequences were filmed using a model. See more »

Goofs

In the initial air battle, the AVG shoots down a dual-engine bomber. The following actual footage shows a single-engine fighter craft hitting the ground. See more »

Quotes

Jim Gordon: [after Woody joins a sortie against Jim's orders, in a fighter without ammo or a radio, and gets himself shot down] Where do you think you are, with some broken-down flying circus?
Woody Jason: Aw, it would've been a cinch; I was ridin' the murder-spot right above those Jap bombers! If I had ammo, I'd have blown them clear out of China!
Jim Gordon: Instead, you wasted a good ship!
Woody Jason: Hey, you talk like that crate's more important than me.
Jim Gordon: I can't afford to lose planes OR pilots...
Woody Jason: It's like I told you earlier, Pappy: All I...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in That's Action (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Battle Hymn of the Republic
(uncredited)
Music by William Steffe (1856)
Played as background at the end
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Wayne Goes To War
8 June 2006 | by See all my reviews

John Wayne's first war film was one of his best, a solid actioner with Wayne giving great presence as the leader of a fighter squadron doing battle against the Japanese invader over the skies of China in the dark days before the U.S. entry into World War II.

Wayne plays Jim "Pappy" Gordon, a variation on the many flinty-commander-with-heart-of-gold characters he would play in films to follow like "Sands Of Iwo Jima" and "Fighting Seabees." Gordon is less flinty than most of them, maybe because his men are volunteers or maybe because his girlfriend Brooke (Anna Lee) is stationed on the same airbase. While the Japanese take their toll on his men, Gordon's toughest job may be keeping peace in his squadron when smug gloryhog Woody Jason (John Carroll) arrives.

When I first saw "Flying Tigers" as a boy, the on-screen gore made the strongest impression. In those days, before pay television, it was something to see a Japanese pilot grab his face, blood oozing through his fingers. Times have changed, of course, but one is still impressed by the well-rendered dogfight sequences, for which Ted Lydecker was nominated for an Oscar. Though it's troubling to be entertained by what amounts to real images of people getting killed, director David Miller manages to incorporate actual combat footage very well into battle sequences that alternate with Lydecker miniature work and shots of actors in their cockpits, better than the more acclaimed director Nicholas Ray later did in another Wayne air war film, "Flying Leathernecks."

"Flying Tigers" contains one key historical inaccuracy: While assembled in the months before Pearl Harbor, the Tigers didn't see action until December 20, 1941. This is an important caveat, but the inaccuracy allows for one of the very first and best examples of that classic movie cliché, where a dramatic scene ends with a glimpse of a desk calendar showing the date "Dec. 7." The scene that follows is one of those Wayne moments that resonated especially in theaters in 1942 and still packs a punch now: Pappy alone by a radio, standing expressionless while a cigarette smolders in his fingers, listening to President Roosevelt declare war.

Neither Wayne's iconographic stature or final victory against the Japanese were sure things when "Flying Tigers" came out in 1942; we tend to take more for granted and give films like this less credit. Wayne was 35 and not a real soldier, yet he came to define the war effort for many. Judging from the way some comments here attack him as a straw dog for present U.S. war policy in Iraq, Wayne's potency as a symbol remains undimmed.

Climbing off his P-40 after an early mission, Wayne is shown a row of bullet holes on his fuselage. "Termites," he says laconically, before striding away.

I give a lot of credit here to Miller, who knew what he had in Wayne before anyone else did, and uses the actor's terse authority to great effect. Miller was making propaganda, yes, but effectively and sensitively: We see Chinese children victimized by war, including one shot of a wounded child crying after a bombing clearly modeled on a famous war photo of the period. Unlike other wartime films which went heavy on ethnic stereotyping, the Japanese are seen as skilled, ruthless adversaries who require resolve to face down.

The film does lose altitude at the end, when Wayne goes off on a hare-brained bombing mission and Carroll has a "why-we-fight" epiphany that rings rather hollow. Maybe it's because he's playing a heel, but I find Carroll hard to take, with his Clark Gable mannerisms and the way he seems to always play to the camera rather than the other actors. There's also a little too much melodrama between Wayne and Lee that feels out of place in a war film.

But "Flying Tigers" has weathered the years better than most films of its kind, and is a historic landmark both for its effective action scenes and its pioneering use of Wayne as cultural touchstone. More than 60 years later, it still packs a punch.


26 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 36 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial