Can you tell which one is the movie poster from 1990, and which one is us at our local airfield?
The movie is the story of 10 American airmen in WWII making their last bombing mission over Nazi Germany. If they come back alive, they’ll have made 25 successful bombing runs and can go home to the USA. Between enemy fighter planes and anti-aircraft trying to knock these B-17’s out of the sky, the risk was high.
The movie succeeds in portraying many aspects of an American airfield in England: The boredom, the camaraderie, the pranks, the local girls who dance with the men, the caring colonel who has to send the boys out into danger, the need for publicity to keep up morale and sell war bonds, the fear, the large crew who keep the planes running and personnel fed, the new guy.
10 men fly on the Memphis Belle, and how can a movie make us keep track of them all, especially when they spend much of the time with their hair and faces covered in headgear and breathing apparatus? Director Michael Caton-Jones does this by taking time to develop the characters before they ever sit in the airplane. Here they are, from my memory (you can look up the actors on IMDb to see if I remembered correctly):
- The pilot who is bossy and wants to run his family furniture store
- The co-pilot who just wants to be a gunner instead of a side-kick
- The piano-playing singer from New Orleans
- The terrified navigator
- The red-headed poet
- The red-headed other guy
- The gunner who wants to open a chain of hamburger restaurants
- The bombardier who lied about being a doctor
- The ladies man
- The superstitious guy
Exciting movie, fun to watch, and makes us appreciate our military past and present!
This short film from the History Channel explains more than I can about this amazing plane: