At times this film is reminiscent of the Pat O’Brien – James Cagney films of the early thirties like Here Comes the Navy and Devil Dogs of the Air. Especially during the early segments where bombardier trainees Robert Ryan and Eddie Albert among others are all trying to impress commanding officer O’Brien. Pat’s also got his hands full with old pal Randolph Scott who doesn’t agree with Pat that large scale bombers are best suited to aerial warfare.
Anne Shirley winds up as Pat’s personal assistant who eventually sets old Pat’s head spinning towards a few romantic notions. This doesn’t sit well with Scott as he’s been chasing Anne since the film began. Honestly, Pat must have hated filming an inept scene with Anne where she fends off his thoughts of proposing marriage.
As we’re introduced to the cadets it’s fairly obvious that the script is of the paint by numbers variety. The film does however drastically change it’s tone when Robert Ryan stumbles into the base chapel announcing “The Japs are attacking Pearl Harbor!”
As was customary during WW2, propaganda seeped into most war films and this one is no different painting a rather nasty picture of the enemy with racial slurs thrown in for good measure.
If one can set the stereotypes aside, director Richard Wallace delivers an explosive finale to this RKO production. With Scott leading the way and O’Brien’s bombers following behind I am quite sure that audiences of the day were cheering the boys on as they fly over enemy territories seeking a little military justice for Pearl.
I have to freely admit I have never been a big supporter of Pat O’Brien and his inept scene with Shirley isn’t going to change that opinion. Scott and Ryan are more to my liking for cast members. It should also be noted that one of Warner Brothers favorite gangsters Barton MacLane turns up here as Scott’s pal who jumps into the heroics right alongside our star player. A nice change of pace for Barton who goes out admirably.
Way down the list of credits after our fiery climax one can take notice of the credited editor. Mr. Robert Wise. Wise should need no introduction having directed many top films through out his long career including The Sound of Music.
Look fast as well for popular character actor Paul Fix who turns up briefly as a spy that Robert Ryan sets up in a sting operation during the training segment.
A time capsule of sorts that offers Scott fans an opportunity to see him fighting someone besides a low down cattle rustler.