Bombardier (1943) Poster


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For its genre, this is a pretty good flick
MartinHafer6 September 2006
There were a lot of films made by Hollywood during the war years that were designed to drum up support for our troops from the public. Seen today, some might dismiss them or just see them as propaganda--which they technically are, but of a positive sort and meant to unify the nation. This film is a pretty effective and entertaining example of the genre--having a pretty realistic script and good production values. Pat O'Brien plays pretty much the same character he played in MANY other films (you know, the tough-talking, hard-driven but "swell guy"). Randolph Scott is, as always, competent and entertaining and the rest of the extras are excellent (look for a young Robert Ryan as one of the bombardiers in training). While the story is reminiscent of several other movies about our pilots and crews, the film is well-crafted enough to make it interesting and not too far-fetched. That it, perhaps, except for the very end--where the film is a bit over-the-top but also VERY satisfying. About the only serious negative, and this is mostly for nitpickers, is that some of the stock footage is somewhat sloppily integrated in the film and "nuts" like me who are both history teachers and airplane lovers will probably notice this--all others probably won't notice.
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Summary: The man in command
dexter-1011 February 2000
There is no question as to who is in command of the training of cadets in this film: Major Chick Davis (Pat O'Brien). O'Brien plays an officer who adheres to military discipline in the creation of a new kind of soldier from his cadets--the bombardier. But he is not so rigid as to be unfair or unfriendly. In fact, he even changes his opinion as to the value of women working in the military. He's tough when he has to be, yet at other times he is a clear mix of coach and pastor, roles he perfected in other films. His character is the foundation of the action around which everything revolves. O'Brien seems natural in the role, and plays it in fine fashion. Two things help this movie: O'Brien's performance and the spectacular special effects ending.
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Flawed but still excellent
Ted Stoner12 March 2009
I wasn't sure at first if I was watching a documentary, propaganda film or dramatic presentation. I guess given the time of production it was a mix of all three.

Admittedly the dramatic plot was somewhat predictable. But you had a sense that there would be some interesting scenes as the movie went on. We were able to witness what appeared to be realistic training regimens and equipment.

Where this movie came together for me was closer to the end. The scenes had a realism (at least as I perceived it) that I haven't encountered often before. You could place yourself in the action and imagine the thoughts of the young combatants. This was mixed in with the usual problems of portraying passable Japanese soldiers at a time when you might think real Japanese actors would be somewhat scarce.

The movie is excellent as a source of the state of the American mindset in 1943 as the war waged with Japan. Also of interest was a dig at the Japanese with respect to the help the USA gave Japan in past years.
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I have remembered this movie for over 50 years.
swojtak23 April 2013
I saw this movie in the late 1950's or early 1960's on TV and it has always stuck with me. The scene that stands out vividly is when Robert Ryan walks into the church and yells, "The Japs just bombed Pearl Harbor". That scene has stuck in my head over 50 years. Oddly it seems that the ending involves bombing Nagoya. The movie went from Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor to the U.S. bombing the Japanese homeland really quickly. Another interesting thing is the movie never uses the word Norton Bombsight. At the time of the movie, even the word Norton was secret. Also, you never see the actual bomb sight only something being carried in a cloth bag by two airmen. Even a picture of the sight was secret. I did like the picture because it shows the training the men received. It seems like a lot of training just to push a button. I also like of part of the Bombardier controlling the plane. The part of the movie seems right in that the plane, pilot, ground crew, and everything else is there just to take the Bombardier to the target so he can push a button. The Pilot and Bombardier is like playing golf. The drive is for the show (pilot) but the putt (bombardier) is for the dough!. The rest was over the top--the oath and song of the Bombardier. Lastly, wasn't the actor who played the Japanese officer also played "Harry Hoo" on the TV show "Get Smart". All in all a film worth watching.
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So that's how they did it?
SimonJack8 July 2012
This 1943 film by RKO is among several that Hollywood and/or the War Department put out during the early months and years of World War II. It's a mix of genres. The war action comes at the end. A docu-drama style tells the story of the bombardier school and training. Hollywood adds its usual touch of romance, but lightly. The drama is there – even in the training. And, of course, it's a propaganda film. Propaganda surely had its place in WWII – to help sustain public morale, build support for the U.S. cause and efforts, and give the public a picture of some of the troops, training, and campaigns.

"Bombardier" tells and shows us the early days of training for this new position in the Army Air Forces – precursor of the U.S. Air Force. As such, it's a good educational piece for the public, then and now. The men who went into combat in different roles weren't tossed together and sent into combat. They were trained first. And for some fields, the training was highly specialized and detailed. This film shows very well that detail, study and science that went into the training of bombardiers. These men indeed played a critical role in destroying enemy armament production, fuel depots and major supplies – and in so doing, helped end the war much earlier than it would have otherwise concluded.

Many have said it since the first attribution to Civil War Gen. William T. Sherman, that "War is hell!" But once a nation is in a war, it should do everything possible to end it as soon as possible.

Many war movies have been made, especially about the two "great" world wars of the 20th century. They have variously focused on the action of troops in battles, assaults from the sea, naval engagements or air combat. Most give us a picture, however much Hollywood may "tweak" it, of the human conditions, relationships, and characters. Often times they include the strategic plans of real battle scenes. These are the things that most interest people, or "entertain" audiences for this genre. But films such as "Bombardier" add another value in educating and informing the public of what went into the readying of our nation for war, and our ability to win and end it as soon as possible.

As an Army paratrooper veteran, I enjoy learning about the "how-to" that men and women learn in the different combat and support specialties of our armed services. People who approach war movies in a similar frame of mind will be much more likely to enjoy them. I highly recommend "Bombardier" as an informative, action-filled and historical war movie.
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Richard Martin as Chito Rafferty
Diosprometheus21 April 2005
Richard Martin first played Chito Rafferty in this movie World War 2 movie. He would go on to play that same character 32 times, mostly in Tim Holt Westerns, but he did play it twice along side Robert Mitchem in Nevada and West of the Pecos. The Chito Rafferty character also appeared alongside James Warren in Wanderer of the Wasteland. One wonders how a character that first appeared in a modern war flick ended up being a longtime sidekick in Westerns. Interestingly, the second time Martin played his famous character was not with Tim Holt, but with Robert Mitchum in Nevada. It would not be until 1947, that the Rafferty character appeared alongside cowboy star Tim Holt in Wild Horse Mesa.
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Knute Rockne Joins the Army Air Corps
bkoganbing23 February 2006
Pat O'Brien takes his Knute Rockne character and joins the Army Air Corps in Bombardier and he and Randolph Scott have a disagreement as far as air tactics go. Scott wants to do things as they do in the RAF where he's been an observer. Fly in low and drop bombs and avoid being shot at.

O'Brien is more interested in technology. Develop and learn how to use an accurate bombsight so you can be up around 20,000 feet and only have to worry about enemy planes which presumably your fighter escort has to deal with.

But since these guys are friends it's a good natured fight as both are in the business of training bombardiers. Among the familiar faces they train are Eddie Albert and Robert Ryan before both went in the service themselves.

Bombardier is so very dated now, but still entertaining. The advances in technology are light years beyond what O'Brien and Scott are dealing with. Film buffs who are air historians might like it though.
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The war effort gets stronger.
Michael O'Keefe5 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This war drama from RKO Radio can't help but appear dated, but is evocative of the mindset in the early '40s. An entertaining piece of propaganda with just enough war action and actually features some good acting. The two primary stars Pat O'Brien and Randolph Scott argue over methods of training for the war effort. Scott playing Capt. Buck Oliver, who is adamant about recruiting pilots; O'Brien stars as Major Chick Davis pushing the training of pilots in high altitude precision bombing. The latter becomes head instructor at a flying school inherited by "Burt" Hughes(Anne Shirley). Davis is surprised when Oliver arrives as a flight instructor and insists he complies with the program of bombing training. Sub plots involve the competition for the affections of Miss Hughes; and the arrival of her brother Tom(Eddie Albert)as a student. Intense and grueling aerial footage. Richard Wallace directs; other players include: Robert Ryan, Richard Martin, James Newill, Barton MacLane and Brigadier General Eugene L. Eubanks. And in smaller roles are: Paul Fix, Eddie Dew and Hugh Beaumont.
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Passable World War II propaganda film with a all-star cast
jacobs-greenwood2 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Directed by Richard Wallace, with writing credits for Martin Rackin (story) and John Twist (story and screenplay), this World War II propaganda film focuses on the technical role of the title job. It features an all star cast including: Pat O'Brien, Randolph Scott, Anne Shirley, Eddie Albert, Walter Reed, Robert Ryan, Barton MacLane, and Russell Wade, who played a similar role in The Bamboo Blonde (1946).

The film begins with a monologue (by Brigadier-General Eugene L. Eubanks himself) emphasizing the importance of the bombardier, and the vision it took to create, train, and staff the job prior to World War II so that we were prepared to join the fight. Major Chick Davis (O'Brien), with his "golden goose" sighting equipment, challenges dive bomber Captain Buck Oliver (Scott) to see whose method will be most effective in the conflict, should the United States choose to enter the war. Though Buck misses the target, Chick hits it from 20,000 feet, convincing his critics to fund a training school (actually in Kirtland Field, Albuquerque) in New Mexico.

The mythical site is reported to be an airfield owned by a former, and now deceased, dive bomber named Hughes, whose daughter Burton (Shirley) and son Tom (Albert) still work there. Gruff Chick arrives to find an environment too cozy for the Army Air Force, because of Burton's woman's touch, and has Sgt. Dixon (MacLane) rough it up a bit. Buck arrives to help, as one of the pilots for the bombardiers, and is greeted by Burton, who he evidently has been dating. Apparently Tom has enlisted as a bombardier too, based on the fact that his best friend, a star football player, Jim Carter (Reed) had joined.

The film then spends quite a bit of time giving an overview of the education, which begins with extensive classroom and other ground training before the students are ever taken up in a plane. Besides Tom and Carter, some of the other recruits include Joe Connors (Ryan), Chito Rafferty (Richard Martin), and Paul Harris (Wade). Some of the pupils do better than others: Connors is distracted until we learn the reason - someone had been offering him money for one of the "golden goose" sighting apparatuses. Chick uses Connors to catch the culprits. Chick must also fight for his men to be treated with respect in the Army, e.g. to get commissions making them equal to their pilots. Scott's character Buck serves the function of the skeptical pilot trying to "steal" the best of Chick's recruits and as one who must be convinced of the bombardier's value.

Shirley's character, as the lone credited female in the film, is not only a romantic interest for the competing Buck and Carter (and even to the smallest degree, Chick) but also serves to "soften up" the tough Chick a bit, acting as his sounding board, loyal employee, and voice of reason. Joan Barclay does appear, uncredited, as a romantic interest for Rafferty, however briefly. The most dramatic, and character revealing moments in the film, revolve around Arnold's character, who must justify why Chick and the Army board should keep him given his fear of jumping out of a disabled plane AND later is doomed to a tragic fate.

The final phase of the film is the realization of all the extensive training, after it is learned that the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor.

Though this film received an Academy Award nomination for Special Effects, they are vastly inferior to those in another film nominated film that same year, Air Force (1943).

There is, of course, a moment late in the film when Buck sees the light and appreciates the role of the titled soldier. The film ends, oddly enough for the time, with its credits.
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Stupit American! Vee will make you talk!
kapelusznik1831 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Off we go into the wild blue yonder here with the boys in blue members of the USAAF doing their thing in saving the American people as well as the free world from the forces of fascism all over the world trying to take away their freedom and democracies. This time by training and later blasting the enemy-Japanese-to kingdom come with their loads of bombs from their B-25 bombers flying into the teeth of massive Jap anti aircraft fire. We also have the women that they left behind at the airbase or home rooting them on but because of restrictions against women in combat, which have since been lifted, back then in 1943 unable to join them on their combat missions against the Japanese Empire.

There's also a bit of a conflict between fly boys Major Chick Davis, Pat O'Brian, and his good friend Captain Buck Oliver, Randolph Scott, not just how to drop the bombs at either low or high altitude but over the girl Burton "Burt" Hughes, Anne Shirley,who because of her late hero in WWI father is in charge of the airfield-Hughes Field-as well as of her two suitors. We also have a number of side stories here with the afraid of bailing out of a falling plane Tom Hughes, Eddie Albert, Burton's brother later saving a fellow airman hanging on to the planes cargo door and them falling to his death 12,000 feet below without a parachute!

***SPOILERS*** The big scene in the movie after almost 3/4 of it having nothing to do whet we, the audience, came to see we finally get to see the boys in action bombing-as Donald Trump likes to say-the sh*t out of the Japs by blasting the Japanese city of Urgoya as as Captain now Major Buck Oliver is captured by the hated and sadistic Japs and threatened with death or ever worse if he doesn't talk! What they want him to talk about is never fully explained by them because he checks out on a hijacked gasoline laden truck before they can get anything out of him. Setting fires all over the city's industrial district Buck makes it possible for his friend Major Chick Davis and his crewmen to bomb the Japanese war making factories out of existence!

P.S Buck never lived to see the end of the movie since he was killed by Chick's planes bombardment but as a final note got to read a letter, that the evil Japs stole from him, from the girl Burton that he and Chick were both fighting over that it was him that she really was in love with!
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Brisk, violent study of one job being done in the war against evil.
mark.waltz28 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This semi-documentary war drama is a face paced look at the lives of the pilots whose job it is to measure distance from the air to make sure the bombs they drop hit their targets. It even starts off like a documentary with no real credits (those are held off until the end) and explains in good detail of what these extremely brave men do, at great risk to their lives, but at even greater risk to their country if they didn't. The first half covers their training while the last part takes us on one of their missions, a dangerous one that has them falling right into the camp of the enemy. That sequence had me riveted to my television in total awe to the technical impressiveness of it all and the horror of these men's situation.

But no matter how much their own lives are in peril, they get the goods on the enemy, never once giving into the tortures and utilizing a popular children's story in giving away American "secrets". The cast is superb, and includes Pat O'Brien (as the trainer), Anne Shirley (well utilized as the only major female character in a men's story), Robert Ryan, Randolph Scott (who gets a great final moment) and Eddie Albert as a trainee who meets a most horrifying destiny in the most shocking moment of the film. A rousing song of the Bombardiers is a light-hearted moment that is poignant and fun but never corny.
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Typical WWII propaganda film
andrewsarchus25 July 2007
Basically a typical propaganda film for the last good war. But there were a couple things that struck me. First was the use of mouthed epithets. In two cases the Scott character mouths one, once at the beginning when he drops his bomb off target during the bomb-off ("dammit") and once when he is trying to sway a bombardier into being a pilot ("s*%t"). I could be wrong about the second instance but I replayed it several times and that's what it looks like to me. The third case is when the Anne Shirley character wishes the O'Brien character goodbye and good luck ("Give 'em hell") over the roar of the engines. She must have thought that was too unladylike because she clearly says "heck". I also found interesting the character that has moral problems with bombing, specifically bombing civilians. The avuncular superior officer assures him that only military targets will be hit due to the precision of the bombsight used. Given what we know about the LeMay's later strategy of firebombing Japanese cities into oblivion this scene plays with not a little irony. I remember McNamara's quoting of LeMay in "The Fog of War", something to the effect that if the US did not win the conflict he would be tried as a war criminal. The ending is way overwrought, in keeping with the movie. It reminded me a bit of the end of White Heat (I'm not comparing the films, just the ending!). Maybe it's just 'cause he gets blowed up. Blowed up real good!!!
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Not uninteresting but routine genre film.
Robert J. Maxwell20 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Flag-waver about the training and tsuris of bombardiers during World War II. It's kind of interesting to hear about the motives of these cadets and informative to learn about their training program. The uniforms are nice, and sometimes Randy Scott as the only pilot involved in the program wears a dashing white scarf under his leather flight jacket. The aerial scenes are actually pretty well done, considering what the budget must have been. There's very little air combat but the effects are effective. During a night raid by B-17s on Nagoya (which never happened) the bombers are attacked by Japanese fighters and someone went to the trouble of showing us that the line of tracer bullets lags behind the traverse of the gun firing them. It's like spraying a garden hose rapidly from side to side. Considering that the target is moving in three dimensions it's a wonder that any of them are hit.

Let's see. I think that's about it for the best parts. The movie seems a slapdash affair with some miscasting and a weak script.

Pat O'Brian is not a hard-nosed disciplinarian of a commanding officer. Pat O'Brian is Father Duffy. The actor who plays "Chico Rafferty" can't do a believable Hispanic accent. Abner Biberman is a Japanese sergeant who simply cannot do a Japanese accent. "Sooo -- you sink you vill not speak? You are long about zat." There's a lot of unengaging friendly competition for the affection of one young woman who happens to work as O'Brian's secretary. It's made manifest at the beginning of the film that most of the office staff will be women because "they're more efficient at it than men." But everybody's after this one babe. (Maybe because she's the daughter of the millionaire pioneer airman who built the field.) O'Brian even proposes gruffly to her. I half expected her to say "you're married to the Air Force." A terrible song is pounded into our ears -- "Rah, Rah, Rah, for the BOMBARDIERS!" (I couldn't help being reminded of Mel Brooks' parody, "Jews in Space.") One of the trainees is doing poorly because, although he's bright and capable, he seems timid. Before the board, he explains that he keeps thinking of the people who will be under his bombs. His mother had called him a "murderer". The general patiently explains that, well, son, don't think of them as people. Think of them as the enemy's arsenal. Don't believe everything your mother tells you. And pray to God for the courage to bomb the crap out of those monkeys. Something very much like that, no kidding.

One of the more exhilarating moments is near the end. Scott's lead bomber has been shot down. He and (a miscast) Barton MacLane as the comic relief sergeant are captured. Scott escapes and drives a flaming truck into the middle of an ammunition dump to provide a fire that will guide the B-17s. He leans out of the window, grins up at the sky, and shakes his fist, shouting, "Come AWN, you BOMBARDIERS!" (They come.) The film was thrown together, I guess, and the script left deliberately at a level that school kids would understand. I don't mean to loose an entire salvo on the film. I've watched it two or three times now and find much of it enjoyable, particularly the scenes of action aloft and training below. But I can't get through it without wincing now and then when it turns into a berserk kind of "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" piece of lowbrow propaganda. It isn't the propaganda that I mind, so much as the fact that it's pretty brutally presented. "Triumph of the Will" is propaganda too -- and propaganda in an evil cause -- yet it's a far superior film. For effective propaganda from our side, delicately blending training, romance, and action, see "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo." Still, as I say, the kids may enjoy "Bombardier" from beginning to end.
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terrible excuse for a movie, even considering the war
deschreiber3 February 2013
Where to begin with this dog of a movie? We could start by pointing out that the premise of the story is wrong, namely, that bombardiers are about to become the most crucial people in the war and that with their wonderful, new, super-top-secret bombsite they will be able to hit their targets right on the nose from 20,000 feet.

Total nonsense. Even when the movie was made, nobody could have believed it. Here is a good example of wildly inaccurate bombing was right to the end of the war, from the article on precision bombing in Wikipedia: "In the summer of 1944, 47 B- 29's raided the Yawata steel works from bases in China; only one plane actually hit the target area, and only with one of its bombs. This single 500 lb (230 kg) general purpose bomb represented one quarter of one percent of the 376 bombs dropped over Yawata on that mission. It took 108 B-17 bombers, crewed by 1,080 airmen, dropping 648 bombs to guarantee a 96 percent chance of getting just two hits inside a 400 x 500 ft (150 m) German power-generation plant."

Early in the movie a cadet has moral scruples about bombing women and children. Oh, but that's what the wicked enemy does, he's told; our side bombs only military targets and does it with wonderful precision. Total nonsense again, on both counts.

As for entertainment value, "Bombardier" has just about none. There's a little bit of information about how bombing crews are trained and a few interesting shots of Flying Fortresses——on the ground——but nothing else. There's the usual attempt to add a little romance and a bit of drama about who will pass and who will fail in the training, and whether anybody is afraid (sure, they are, but only a little), but it's all very lame. The dialogue can make you cringe, particularly the lines given to women. Almost all the flying scenes are done badly with pitiful models. The air battle near the end is almost laughable. As the film ends, a final shot is supposed to show a sky crowded with bombers in formation, but the artist who drew the scene has the sky so full of them, so jam-packed together that they're just about overlapping each other, like a flock of starlings.

Or how about this for crappy writing? Near the beginning, the air force brass are talking about Hitler's Stuka attacks in Europe and how the U.S. had better get prepared in case one day it has to fight him. At the end our bombardiers are bombing Nagoya. But at no moment in between do we hear about Pearl Harbor or the start of the war for the U.S. Forgot to mention that, I guess.

Don't waste your time. I did, and I regret it.
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