1940s Wing and a Prayer (1944)

Published on February 14th, 2011 | by Chris

1

Wing and a Prayer (1944)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On February 14, 2011
Last modified:October 4, 2012

Summary:

Better than average, but still a representative of the 'wartime propaganda' genre, you should probably check out Wing and a Prayer.

Wing and a Prayer (1944)"The story of carrier X" or so the tagline says.  Presumably to try and preserve some sort of classified-ness in the Pacific fleet, since, well, things were still going on.

Wing and a Prayer is a period piece surrounding the Battle of Midway.  Mostly it takes place on board "Carrier X", or as we now know, would have been the uh... well, I can't find any actual reference to which ship this might have been, nor the deception that Carrier X was sent out to deliver.

That being to make a fast cruise around the South Pacific in hopes that the Japanese would mistake this ship for several different carriers to disguise the true strength of the Pacific fleet, and then Carrier X would lead the Japanese fleet back to Midway to be ambushed.  From what I can tell, I'm not sure this really happened.  OK, given the time, I guess we can give you that one.  No point giving away *correct* information or anything.  I dunno, maybe a historian can better fill in the blanks here....

ANYWAY.  The meat of the story follows the 5th Torpedo bomber group, led by Moulton (Dana Andrews) and the various mishaps and ultimately the battle of Midway itself....  Not sure what else to say here.  Of course there's the hard-ass flight commander Harper (Don Ameche, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Brad Pitt here).  There's also the usual cadre of characters, with a couple curveballs.  Such as Scott (William Eythe) the Oscar-winning actor turned cocky pilot.

They win some, they lose some, and of course, in the end we win.  As far as during-the-war-pictures go, however, this one really isn't that bad.  Also note the ambitious and well-done use of compositing special effects in this one.   The slanted Star Wars-like opening credits are a unique touch, and the compositing continues throughout, from the air battles, to the deck action, and everything in between.

Ultimately, though, what you've got here is a feel-good film for the folks back home.  Most of these type of films show the fighting men in good spirits, well health, and generally having a good time throughout, with bits of combat in between.  Always nice to think that your son or husband is really living this way, but I bet the reality was slightly different.

Better than average, but still a representative of the 'wartime propaganda' genre, you should probably check out Wing and a Prayer.

Also of note are the TBF Avengers used throughout the film.  You don't get to see them up-close and personal like this very often, and they're a bit of equipment usually overlooked (along with the crews) in favor of the Corsair or Hellcat fighters.  Another reason I liked this film.

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Description

Don Ameche, Dana Andrews, William Eythe and Richard Jaeckel star in this acclaimed film about newly-trained pilots assigned to an aircraft carrier immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Anticipating the battle of Midway, which will determine th

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: AMECHE,DON
Manufacturer: 20th Century Fox
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Don Ameche
  • Dana Andrews
  • William Eythe
  • Charles Bickford
  • Cedric Hardwicke

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

3.0 out of 5 stars Good Wartime Morale Booster With Serious Flaws, January 12, 2015
By 
Laurence J. Rusiecki (Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wing and a Prayer (DVD)
"Wing and a Prayer" portrays the experiences of naval torpedo bomber pilots in WW II. The film is well-acted and the story is compelling. However, the film has serious flaws in terms of its historical accuracy. The mission of sending an aircraft carrier all over the Pacific on any mission was neither plausible nor militarily sound in early 1942, Our navy had a grand total of only five carriers available at the time and risking even one to attack and sinking without doing a greater degree of damage to the Japanese was unsound. The story suffers from other flaws: the Avenger torpedo bomber that the pilots fly in the movie were not available until later in 1942. Admittedly, the movie was made while the war was still being fought so that the real story behind the first two carrier engagements of the war, Coral Sea and Midway, could not be accurately portrayed for security reasons. Still, the film is worth a viewing, if only to see what American movie audiences were viewing... Read more
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Movie that Portrays the Ingenuity, Courage and Heart of Americans, September 28, 2015
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This review is from: Wing and a Prayer (DVD)
This is the story of a U.S. Navy ship during the early days of WW II, not long after most of our Pacific fleet had been destroyed at Pearl Harbor. We did have ships coming from the Atlantic fleet, but it takes time to get to the Pacific. This ship's mission was to go to destinations all over the Pacific to attempt to make the enemy believe we had a bigger fleet than we had. It is believed this ruse was concocted by none other than FDR himself, having been Secretary of the Navy previous to his presidency. This film takes you into the lives of the crew and lets you know who they are as people.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Naval Aviation Film, July 28, 2011
By 
J. Christian (St Louis, MO) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Wing and a Prayer (DVD)
I love this movie. Produced during World War II, it is filled with scenes of absolute authenticity because they were actually filmed in the environment that they represent. ("Carrier X" is actually filmed aboard USS Yorktown CV-10) The movie is a highly fictionalized look at the Battle of Midway. Don't view this movie for facts: most of the historic facts are either wrong or missing, largely as a result of either wartime secrecy or because they simply weren't known at the time. Watch this movie to get the feel of what World War II US Naval Aviation was all about. What did the aircraft look like? What about the ships? What's it like to "Bomb the spar"? Watch the crew crash-land in the ocean and release their raft and try to get aboard. Make no mistake about it, this is a wonderful movie as a snapshot back into Naval Aviation in World War II - just don't write a report about it for History Class!
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Wing and a Prayer (1944) Chris

Summary: Better than average, but still a representative of the 'wartime propaganda' genre, you should probably check out Wing and a Prayer.

3.5


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



One Response to Wing and a Prayer (1944)

  1. warmoviebuff says:

    I agree that from the perspective of it being made in 1944, it was not bad if your were sitting in a theater in 1944, but to watch it today is painful. The cliches are everywhere. The dialogue is trite. The planes drop torpedoes onto the Japanese carrier decks!

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