It's May 1943 at a US Army Air Corps base in England. The four officers and six enlisted men of the Memphis Belle - a B-17 bomber so nicknamed for the girlfriend of its stern and stoic captain, Dennis Dearborn - will soon start their twenty-fifth mission, having completed their previous twenty-four successfully with nary an incident, while fewer and fewer other planes are coming back from their missions at all. If they complete their next mission successfully, they will be the first Army Air Corps B-17 Crew to complete their tour of duty. Visiting communications officer Lt. Col. Bruce Derringer wants to publicize and highly tout their accomplishment, even before it happens, as a long term good news campaign at a time when there is little good news to report. Derringer's plan is against the wishes of the base commander, Col. Craig Harriman, who would prefer to treat the ten as any of his other hard working men. The previous success of the Memphis Belle is despite the disparate natures ...Written by
The Memphis Belle was named for Margaret K. Polk of Memphis, TN. Although she and Robert K. Morgan broke off their engagement after his returning to the US, they remained friends for life. Polk died April 5, 1990. Her obituary, titled "The Memphis Belle, Margaret Polk, dies", appeared April 6, 1990 in the (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. It runs almost 23 column-inches. See more »
When all the Airforce Senior Officers are standing on the balcony of the Control Tower, waiting for the bomber, none of the windows are taped up as a precaution against blast as they would have been since 1939. See more »
True story of the valiant B-17 bomber "Memphis Belle's" 25th and last bombing run over the German port city of Bremen on May 17, 1943. Having flown 24 bombing missions over Nazi occupied Europe since it's first bombing run on November 7, 1942 over the city of Brest France this if successful, it's 25th bombing run, would be the planes and crews ticket out of WWII.
It had been determined by the US general staff that 25 bombing and combat missions over Europe were the limit that a bomber crew, in order to keep casualties down, can take before they start to fall apart from the stress and cease to be effective. The crew of the "Memphis Belle" are the first to almost reach that goal, 25 successful bombing missions.
The unbelievably ferocious German resistance from it vaunted Luftwaffa and ground anti-aircraft batteries over the skies of Europe cost the USAAF and RAF some 35,000 planes, fighters and bombers, and their crews, over 150,000 airmen, during the bombing of Germany and German controlled Europe from 1942 to 1945. Thats just how savage and bitter the fighting was for air supremacy over that war-torn continent.
Stirring story with fine performances from the "Memphis Belle's" Captain Dennis Dearborn, Matthew Modine, on down. As the legendary bomber weathers wave after wave of deadly German ME 109 Messershmitt fighter planes from the sky and massive and murderous German AK AK anti-aircraft fire from the ground. As the "Memphis Belle" flies over Bremen and drops it's bomb payload and then limps back to England. With it's crew battered and bloody but safe and alive to be the first bomber crew to survive 25 missions over German controlled Europe.
The spectacular air combat photography was the best I've ever seen in a war movie and the cast was on par with the "Memphis Belle" with no one outshining the others but all equal up to their task just like the famed bomber was.
Back on the ground there was another drama played out with officer Col. Harriman, David Strathaim, who sent out the "Memphis Belle" and the other 23 B-17's of his bomber squadron on their mission over Bremen Germany. Col. Harriman didn't go along with Col. Derringer, John Lithgow, the US public relation officer who seemed too eager to reward the "Memphis Belle" crew with honors and glory even before they successfully finished their 25th mission. Not realizing that he was making the bombers crew and Col. Harriman very nervous with his not understanding how dangerous their mission was and even possibly jinxing them.
Tense and terrific the movie has already become a war classic without the false heroics that was so common in war movies made during WWII by Hollywood in order to boost the US morale at home and on the battlefield. The crew of the "Memphis Belle" were just as normal and scared as anyone of us would be if we were in the same situation that they were in. But it was that very fear that brought the best in strength and courage out of them and made them the hero's that they eventually became.
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