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Combat America (1943)

Not Rated | | Documentary, War
A documentary recounting the experiences of the 351st Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces, based in England during the Second World War . The group's air and ground crews are ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Himself - Narrator
William A. Hatcher ... Himself - Commanding General
Philip J. Hulls ... Himself - Top Turret Gunner
Kenneth L. Hulls ... Himself - Ball Turret Gunner
Theodore R. Geropolis ... Himself - Pilot
Daniel F. Stevens ... Himself - Bombardier
Paul J. Posti ... Himself - Ball Turret Gunner
Tim Tuchet ... Himself - Tailgunner
Henry H. Arnold ... Himself - Commander, U.S. Army Air Forces (as H.H. Arnold)
Ace Akins ... Himself
Pete Provenzale ... Himself
... Himself
Jack Pepper ... Himself
... Herself
Tony Romano ... Himself
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Storyline

A documentary recounting the experiences of the 351st Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Forces, based in England during the Second World War . The group's air and ground crews are followed through a number of bombing missions over Hitler's Germany. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

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Documentary | War

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Not Rated
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(Technicolor)

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1.37 : 1
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Trivia

The battle scenes are actual combat footage. See more »

Quotes

Clark Gable: [describing the contrails left by the B-17s, showing their locations to the Luftwaffe fighters] Long trails of magnificent treachery.
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War Time Morale Builder.
12 May 2012 | by See all my reviews

Andy Rooney met Clark Gable in England while Gable was in the Eighth Air Force. Rooney described him as smiling, friendly, and impeccably dressed in tailored officer's pinks. He looked as if he'd just stepped out of a poster. And why not? Gable didn't have to serve but enlisted anyway. He flew only five missions but on one of them, two of his crew were killed. And who would the public rather look at -- a cinematic icon in a tailored uniform or some grease monkey in olive drab? The moguls in Hollywood were wringing their hands over the prospect of their Number One screen idol being shot down and Gable was finally discharged in 1944.

He narrates this documentary of the group he served with, the 351st bomb group, consisting of a few dozen B-17s, and he appears on screen once in a while, bantering with the gunners and so forth. Gable was part of a six-man motion picture unit. The writer was John Lee Mahin, a veteran of the old school and a man with an all-encompassing sense of humor. Everyone should read his satire of James Joyce's "Ulysses," focusing on movie production. (Last sentence: "Yes, yes. But on a higher plane." Something like that.

It's not possible to watch this film without comparing it to William Wyler's similar "Memphis Belle," and the latter is far less hokey. Mahin seems to have been writing less to inform the public about the operations of the 8th Air Force and more to reassure the good folk back in Martinsville, Indiana, that we were dishing out more than we were taking, and that our boys were going to church regularly and visiting museums in England. "Men, that church is more than 900 years old," says Gable's voice, and we see the men remove their caps as they stare at it.

The combat footage is reserved for the climactic last ten minutes and it's exciting, if a bit more confused that that of "Memphis Belle." Of course any film about warfare -- and about strategic bombing in particular -- raises questions no one really wants to face. Questions such as: Exactly who is under those bombs? The post-war Strategic Bombing Survey asked questions like that and the results were far from comforting. As a means of settling differences, people killing other people is a disadvantage from the point of view of the species, that is Homo sapiens.


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