Union officer Kerry Bradford escapes from Confederate Prison and is set to Virginia City in Nevada. Once there he finds that the former commander of his prison Vance Irby is planning to send $5 million in gold to save the Confederacy.
A new flight surgeon and a Navy pilot overcome personal differences to work on solving the problem of Altitude Sickness which causes blackouts at high altitude. The real stars of the film are the pre-World War II navy aircraft featured in full colorWritten by
Robert Svacha <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Screenplay often attributed to L. Ron Hubbard. (It isn't, though.) See more »
Anthony passes out during the high altitude chamber testing, and putting on his oxygen mask knocks off the oxygen sensor clipped to his left ear lobe, yet the next view of him from the front, still adjusting the straps, shows the oxygen sensor still attached to his ear. See more »
I have to side with those who have said the real stars are the pristine U.S. Naval aircraft of 1941, most still wearing the colorful prewar markings. But Flynn is always enjoyable, especially at this stage of his career, and he does a great job of playing off his cool Navy doctor personality against Fred MacMurray's hard bitten naval aviator.
There are some interesting Hollywood shortcuts in the film. As Swede Larson's Vindicator dive bomber goes into its fatal dive over Hawaii, the air gunner is seen in the rear seat. The crash is convincing, probably done with a large scale model, but the wreckage appears to be cobbled up from bits and pieces (Lockheed Vega tail) and doesn't even vaguely resemble a Vindicator. The fate of the air gunner is not addressed - maybe he was smart enough to have bailed out? Anyway he conveniently disappeared. The role of the enlisted troops in Naval Aviation is conveniently ignored, except for the hospital corpsmen.
I think the comedic interlude with Nazarro double-talking "Lucky's" wife is quite charming and reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's double talk with Raymond Massey's Nazi in DESPERATE JOURNEY. To the critics of this I say it was a 1940's thing; THEY thought it was funny. People today will already find Kelly McGillis's character with her seamed stockings and leather flight jacket already dated and corny in 1980s' TOP GUN. That's show biz; let it go.
Several shots aboard the USS ENTERPRISE show TBDs catching the wire on landing but the camera is angled up for "security" to avoid showing details of the Vindicators' arresting gear. So to answer those who talk about security obviously the Navy did throw in a few restrictions.
The "diving suit" high altitude gear is pure fantasy. But then, it's a movie.
Note for the "rough landing" by the bit player flight surgeon where a plane goes bouncing all over the field, a U.S. Navy N3N trainer is NOT abused in that way. A civilian biplane (possibly a Great Lakes) is repainted to resemble an N3N (and they got the national insignia too small).
For those who claim the film was NOT shot at North Island in San Diego, please note Flynn flies past the Del Coronado Beach Hotel. I knew two old men who were in the Navy and USMC and were stationed there and have fond memories of the movie. After the filming was complete, the film crew staged a big beer bust for all of the men who took part in helping make it. I was stationed there 30 years after the movie was made and a lot of the base still looked that way.
One puzzling thing, at the "Graduation" from Flight Surgeon School, the Navy band plays "SEMPER PARATUS," the U. S. Coast Guard march. The "Dive Bomber March" by Max Steiner, used throughout the movie, was good enough to be re-used later for the Robert Stack P-47 movie FIGHTER SQUADRON, as well as John Wayne's WW-2 sub flick, OPERATION PACIFIC
In many respects, this film is really a documentary of U.S. Naval Aviation in 1941 with a superficial film plot thinly superimposed. But it's a treasure!
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