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Aerial Gunner (1943)

Aerial Gunner. Feature film. (1943, 78 mins) IMDB

...everybody sacrifice--there's war on...

T

he only reason I watched this film was the claim that Robert Mitchum was in it. Well. He is in the film, but for about one minute during the middle. That's what I call misleading advertising. I could have checked before hand, but I prefer to watch films cold. I don't want to be influenced by trailers or reviews or hype. Not easy, but for older films like this 1943 war propaganda B movie, no C movie, it's possible.

Anyway, Mitchum's name is on the cover of the DVD which is absurd. The IMDB.com listing shows him as "uncredited." If he's not credited in the titles of the movie, then you shouldn't put his name on the cover. But people want to make money and Robert Mitchum is a name you and I recognize.

I wouldn't have minded if the film was at least half decent, but it's a nothing more than war propaganda. I wouldn't be surprised on two accounts. First, the Pentagon financed it. Second, Mitchum was seduced into appearing in the film as his patriotic duty (a little PR doesn't hurt) and for a case of Scotch. It was a one day performance. He spent the morning getting into wardrobe while drinking some of that Scotch and said his two lines in the afternoon. Not bad for a day's work.

While the film is completely forgettable, it's not entirely full of cringing. There are far too many moments with bad dialogue, "If someone doesn't stop that thing he's going to be killed." And filled with exposition. On a firing range one asks, "With everyone firing (at the same target), how do you know who hits the target?" "That's easy," someone replies, "each gun has their own coloured bullets." Okay. I guess. Never heard of such a thing.

You'll go to sleep trying to remember these gems so you can impress someone when you recite them.

There are six main characters. Foxy. Davis. Sandy. Sleepy. Gadget. Peggy.

Peggy is Sandy's brother.

Foxy and Davis are rivals and love interest to Peggy.

Sandy is just effeminate or gay. He likes to paint and doesn't seem suited to the military.

Sleepy is well sleepy.

Gadget is always taking something apart or putting it back together or something in between.

I like the fact there is a clear distinction between each of these characters except for the two leads. Foxy and Davis. They looked alike. Sound alike. Unless they were head to head, it was tough to remember who was who. (It didn't help that it's shot in B&W with grainy images. Some shots were clearly out of focus. This is not an A or even B Hollywood movie. Call it C. An independent movie financed by the government.)

Much of the film deals with the training for these gunners--men (and they were only men) who sit in a plane and fire large calibre machine guns. It sounds simple, but it isn't.

Act III deals with the men in combat in the Pacific theatre, fighting the Japanese. That some of them should die in this war film isn't surprising, that the film should blatantly say sacrifice is what is called for labels it propaganda.

Posted 2009/03/20 at 18h22ET in Movie Commentary.

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