An adventuresome young man goes off to find himself and loses his socialite fiancée in the process. But when he returns 10 years later, she will stop at nothing to get him back, even though she is already married.
Technicolor tale of honor and romance. This drama from 1942 was directed by Oscar-winner William A. Wellman, and features stunning aerial photography, that was highly advanced for the time. John Sutton stars as Peter Stackhouse, a British aviophobe who is nonetheless determined to become a pilot. Stackhouse's resolution comes from his desire to serve his country, and his strength is recognized by Steve Britt (Preston Foster), who becomes his patient teacher. The two men's bond is tested, however, when they both fall for the same girl (Gene Tierney).Written by
When William Wellman does a film about his favorite subject aviation you can always be sure that the flying sequences will be among the best ever done in a given era. Wellman who was a member of the famed Lafayette Escadrille in World War I made all his aviation pictures with precision, care, and love. Thunder Birds: Soldiers Of The Air is no exception.
Old World War I ace Preston Foster is to old for combat in this new World War, but he volunteers to be a civilian instructor at ThunderBird Field in Arizona for a new generation of fliers. The head of the base Jack Holt assigns Foster to Reginald Denny's British air cadets doing their training for the RAF in America. One of them is John Sutton who is the son of a British ace from the last war and a friend of Foster's who was killed.
It doesn't look like Sutton has the right stuff and that's the considered opinion of all save Foster. Sutton does have some issues but he's determined to carry on in the family aviation tradition even though his original training is for the medical corps. His brother was killed on a bombing run into Europe and Sutton feels this is what he must do.
Complicating things is the fact that both Foster and Sutton fall for Gene Tierney. Still Foster keeps his job and love life separate, but he's old enough and wise enough to keep it apart.
Darryl Zanuck splurged for color on this film, not something normally done in the wartime cinema. It always seemed that Fox did use color more than any other of the major studios. It certainly adds to Bill Wellman's aviation sequences. Look fast and you'll see Peter Lawford as one of the British cadets. And in a flashback sequence as Sutton's grandmother Dame May Witty borrows a bit from her character from Mrs. Miniver and shows she hasn't lost any of the right stuff herself.
Aviation buffs will love Thunder Birds: Soldiers Of The Air. The rest of us will find it more than acceptable.
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