Memphis Belle the Airplane and Memphis Belle the Movie – All in the Same Weekend!


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.

We watched the movie, then crawled around in the airplane, which made us appreciate even more the cramped and terrifying conditions the airmen of WWII endured in order to help win the war.

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):

  1. The pilot who is bossy and wants to run his family furniture store
  2. The co-pilot who just wants to be a gunner instead of a side-kick
  3. The piano-playing singer from New Orleans
  4. The terrified navigator
  5. The red-headed poet
  6. The red-headed other guy
  7. The gunner who wants to open a chain of hamburger restaurants
  8. The bombardier who lied about being a doctor
  9. The ladies man
  10. The superstitious guy

Exciting movie, fun to watch, and makes us appreciate our military past and present!

Image To us, the ball turret underneath, in which a gunner can rotate to shoot at incoming enemy planes, looks just like R2D2.

This short film from the History Channel explains more than I can about this amazing plane:


Filed under Movies

4 responses to “Memphis Belle the Airplane and Memphis Belle the Movie – All in the Same Weekend!

  1. Can’t wait to see this movie when we come back to the States. What a great opportunity for you to see the actual plane too. At first it looked like the girl (pink shirt) was holding a G.I. Joe action figure. One of my most memorable times while living in PNG was scuba diving on a B-25 wreck. The crew swimming safely to a nearby island, their plane simply ran out of fuel and had to be ditched in the bay near Madang. The only damage was the left side engine falling off while she sank. It came to rest under the left side of the fuselage, tilting the planes left wing high above the sloping seabed. Standing tall at the end of that wing was a 5′, bright red, barrel sponge. Making our way to the other side of the plane a lobster walked out as if to greet us, shyly retreating as we approached. Bullets still wait for a target as the machine guns remain intact, tips brite from the polishing hand of divers steadying themselves against the current. We were even able to sit in the cockpit as the pilots had busted out the glass to escape. Thanks for the review, and the memory.

  2. How cool to dive with a sunken airplane! Even better is knowing that the crew made it safely to Papua New Guinea.

  3. Pingback: The Airplane that Wasn’t There | Illuminutti

  4. Pingback: Twelve O’Clock High: A Movie for Memorial Day | Movies Are Fun!

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