Published on November 10th, 2010 | by Chris1
The Thundering 8th (2001)
This time, though, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Thundering 8th." A tribute to the guys of the 56th Fighter Group of the 8th Bomber Command in Europe during WWII, "The Thundering 8th" excels in its purpose.
It follows the memories of pilot Joe Sarnowski (Donald Borza II) as he relives a flight in the same (now restored) P-47 Thunderbolt he was shot down in during the war. This early scene had me pulled in already, as a fairly accurate and unpretentious portrayal of how these types of conversations go. The enthusiasm in current owner Sills (Ron Masak) voice, and the careful retrospect of "Old Joe..."
The air combat sequences are a truly creative blending of stock footage, sound effects, and "in cockpit" footage that are really seamless. I'm not sure what exactly it was about it, the equalized toning of the sequences, the artful editing, or the pilots "banter" as they go about protecting the B-17s on their runs... But it just did it for me.
Casting here is also a bit of a creative feat, bringing former stars such as Larry Wilcox (CHiPs), Don Most (who I didn't recognize at first, Ralph Malph!!), and Jan-Michael Vincent (Airwolf) into the fray along with a few relative unknowns. Everyone seems to be "into" their parts and enjoying the whole experience, and that definitely comes through in their performances. I never got the feeling that these guys were doing a "paying the rent" picture. At all. And that impressed me greatly.
Along the way we get a bit of a detour as Sarnowski takes an unauthorized leave into the English countryside, and winds up befriending an English (OK, lack of accents notwithstanding) family, (June Lockhart(!), Ewing M. Brown) and their granddaughter, Kommerina (Kommerina "Karin" Young)... Honestly I didn't much get into this part of the film, partly because of the accent issue (they're supposed to be English, right?) but I understand its inclusion, especially as we see older Sarnowski (William Windom) going over some photos.... There is also another sequence with Sarnowski, explaining why he lost his eye, and how common a bond soldiers can have, even across enemy lines.
And the bonus disc inclusion of the (uncut!) Bob Clampett/Bugs Bunny "Any Bonds Today?", Private SNAFU in "Snafuperman", WB's 1943 "The Rear Gunner" (with Burgess Meredith and Ronald Reagan), and "Thunderbolt" (about the P-47's service in the war) , just sealed the deal. Great choices for bonus material that even a lot of "studio" DVD's ignore.
If you're looking for big-budget special effects, locations, and production, then this isn't for you. Rather if you want to see what a lot of creativity, enthusiasm, and intent can do with (and for) limited resources, then you should check out "The Thundering 8th."
I can't seem to locate any clips on the tube, which is unfortunate, I was hoping to show some of the air combat sequences. I will update if I come across some. In the meantime, here's the documentary from the bonus disc, "Thunderbolt."
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The greatest air combat movie ever made! (-Times) American WWII fighter pilot, Joe Sarnowski, (William Windom) reflects back on his service as an American fighter ace. His pained memories of both love and war are told in the classic WWII movie tradition...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Manufacturer: Popcorn Pictures
Original Release Date:
- Donald Borza II
- Ewing Brown
- Bo Hopkins
- June Lockhart
- Ron Masak
Summary: This time, though, I thoroughly enjoyed "The Thundering 8th." A tribute to the guys of the 56th Fighter Group of the 8th Bomber Command in Europe during WWII, "The Thundering 8th" excels in its purpose.