Monday, August 15, 2011
Dive Bomber(1941). Directed by Michael Curtiz. It is known for both its beautiful photography of pre-World War II United States Navy aircraft and as a historical document of the US in 1941, including the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, one of the best known World War II US warships.
The film was the last of a collaboration between director Curtiz and actor Errol Flynn, which began in 1935 and spanned 12 films. The cast also includes: Fred Mac Murray, Alexis Smith, in her first credited screen performance. Flynn, plays a doctor who works on medical research on pilots, with Mac Murray plays the skeptical veteran aviator. The plot is not historically accurate but, contains elements of true events that were part of the aeromedical research.
Dive Bomber was nominated for an Oscar for Best Color Cinematography at the 14th Academy Awards in 1942. The movie is dedicated to the flight surgeons of the US armed forces, in recognition of their efforts to solve the problems of aviation medicine.
During pre-war operations from an aircraft carrier off Hawaii, the VB-4 "High Hats" bomber Squadron arrive in San Diego, one of the pilots blacks out during a high speed dive and crashes. At the base hospital, Navy Lt. Doctor Doug Lee convinces the Senior Surgeon to operate but the pilot dies on the operating table. After Blake blames Lee for making the wrong decision, the doctor decides to become a flight surgeon.
On completion of his flight training, Dr. Lee becomes a assistant for Dr. Lance Rogers, who is working on altitude sickness project that affects pilots in dive bombers. Lee flies with Blake as his pilot and observes Blake blacking out. He experiments with the successfully flight tests it himself. Even though he has qualified as a pilot, Lee is considered a "grandstander". His judgment over pilots' ability to fly comes into question when he grounds a pilot, Lt. Tim Griffin, who is suffering from chronic fatigue. In anger, Griffin quits the Navy, and joins the RAF in Canada but visits his old squadron when he is flies a new fighter from the Los Angeles. On his return flight, Griffin, finds himself in trouble and is killed attempting to land at an emergency field.
Lt. Commander Blake, volunteers as a "guinea pig" pilot for aerial experiments. The first flight test of a pressurized cabin nearly ends in disaster when Blake passes out, forcing Dr. Lee to take over. During ground testing of a new invention of a pressure suit, Blake realizes that he will not pass his physical and will be grounded. Will Blake go ahead and make the test flight successfully?
I thought this was an exciting and beautifully filmed aviation drama about two naval officers who put aside their personal differences to work together. Mac Murray and Flynn, have very different acting styles, but also work very well together.