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The Starfighters (1964)

A young Air Force lieutenant falls in love with fighter planes while his father, a Congressman and war hero, yearns for him to fly heavy bombers.


Will Zens


Will Zens

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Cast overview:
Robert Dornan Robert Dornan ... Lt. John Witkowski
Richard Jordahl Richard Jordahl ... Maj. Stevens
Shirley Olmstead Shirley Olmstead ... Mary Davidson
Richard Masters Richard Masters ... Col. Hunt
Steve Early Steve Early ... Lt. York
Robert Winston Robert Winston ... Lt. Lyons
Carl Rogers Carl Rogers ... Congressman Witkowski
Ralph Thomas Ralph Thomas ... Capt. O'Brien
Joan Lougee Joan Lougee ... Betty Lyons


The story of young Lt. Witkowski, an Air Force F-104 Starfighter pilot, and his attempts to prove himself a worthy pilot to his father, a congressman and Air Force war hero. Aerial refueling is prominently featured in this tale of the peacetime Air Force. Written by David Conner <dconner@clark.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The blazing adventure of the men and planes who rocket to the very edge of outer space!









Release Date:

25 March 1964 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The name of the movie is a reference to the true star of the film, the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. See more »


Col. Hunt: Listen, I just got back from the Victorville Chamber of Commerce meeting, where I gave them my anti-communist speech... and I'm still fighting mad!
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User Reviews

Before there was "Top Gun" there was STARFIGHTERS!!!
2 April 2008 | by Aaron1375See all my reviews

Though it does kind of play out like Top Gun in certain ways, I am guessing this one did not inspire the more successful and known film in the least. This film was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and is essentially almost a commercial for the Starfighter jet. I almost think this was supposed to simply be a short explaining the virtues of said jet, but the director got out of hand and it ended up being a movie. Well, something that sort of resembles a movie in a minimalist sort of way. I mean, there are scenes featuring more than stock footage of these jets flying and doing things. There is some dialog in there and a romantic subplot! In the end though it all seems to be pointing towards the virtue of this particular jet and of small jet fighters in general. It's almost as if the military were going to mass market these bad boys to the public or something. Though I guess in the end this film was also trying to get more young men into the air force by saying, "Look here! We've got awesome jets to fly and you can get a nice girl who was raised on a corn farm, now listen to some more easy listening music and watch us refuel!"

The story, well, hard to pinpoint it. Let's just say, the Coleman Francis film, "Skydivers" had more of a plot going on than this thing. In the end, we watch a refueling scene and then three new pilots come to the base to train on the jet of the title. We watch them train by flying around, dropping bombs, shooting missiles and blasting their machine gun. Then they give us more refueling as it seems like their fall back or something. They try to generate excitement and peril with a lame wheels may have malfunctioned and then have an off screen storm and crash, but the film is rather tame and ends in very anticlimactic fashion as the pilots try their poopie suits and then just take off again and fly away.

This made for a very funny episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as this film was just so pointless and riddled with elements to riff. One can be pretty sure that you are not missing much of the movie for the show either as it only clocked in at 1 hour and 19 minutes, meaning that the fact the film is all over the place is not due to editing down for the show. You have your long drawn out training sequences to make fun of with easy listening music, a very tepid romance subplot that is obviously just something to give one a break from those plane sequences and you have the poopie suit!

So, yeah, this film is not going to be a favorite of many people. I know people like other films that the gang have riffed, but I just do not see adult, kid or anybody sitting down to this film and going, "Wow, this is amazing! I sure want to fly those jets!" So I do not think anyone's feelings will be hurt when I say this one is bad, even Manos Hands of Fate had more semblance of a plot than this thing! Just a long look into how the air force trains their guys on jets with a totally weak finish. I wonder how many of those Starfighter jets they managed to sell to the public?

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