Saturday, December 1, 2012

1943 - AIR FORCE, Howard Hawk's World War II propaganda epic

Howard Hawks set out to make the propaganda film to end all propaganda films during World War II. He hired Dudley Nichols who was frequently associated with John Ford's films and had William Faulkner to do some uncredited rewrites.  The result is a very good propaganda film that in a lot of ways still holds up considering the source and period.

Hawks primarily used Warner's character actors with only John Garfield as the most notable star and even he is billed 9th in the cast.  The plot concerns the crew of the bomber Mary-Ann on flying to Pearl Harbor just as the Japanese attack.  This is an actual incident that occurred during the start of the war.  From there the film focuses on how the crew works together to take the fight to the Japanese.

For what this film is, it's a very good Hawks film.  Air Force has all of his trademarks, overlapping dialog, good performances especially from John Garfield and John Ridgely and Harry Carey.  Actors like George Tobias and Edward Brophy were always "Johnnie One Notes"  in any film they were in and there was probably nothing Hawks could do about them, but overall the rest do the cast is first rate.

The film also has some pretty good action scenes.  However, the final attack on the Japanese fleet about to invade Australia is ludicrous since it features the Mary-Ann almost single handily blowing up the  entire fleet.

Since this is basically a World War II propaganda film, you have to endure the usual cringing anti Japanese  stuff these films are loaded up with.  Still this is a very good Howard Hawks film.

124 minutes

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