Published on July 25th, 2007 | by Chris0
In the same vein as the thoroughly enjoyable Air Force and the dreadful Wake Island comes the light-hearted yet still deadly serious Bombardier. It's basically a War Department-sponsored (with real Air Corps Brass no less!) bit of propaganda which follows the development of the first group of precision high altitude "bombardiers" through to the beginning of the war and their first runs over Japan.
First, realize that this is without a doubt, a wartime propaganda film in its finest form. That having been said, just put away any preconceptions you might have about its origins, and just sit back and have a bit of fun.
We find ourselves present at the formation of the first "bombardier" school, where they teach cadets how to use the new (but never actually named in the film!) Norden bombsight. Of course if you've studied your history you know this little device is what made high altitude bombings possible, as opposed to the "old school" dive-bombing methods which were employed until that time. It also illustrates just how secretive the government was about this box, including the oath these guys (at least in this picture) had to take to protect the box to their own deaths.
Sure you have to put up with a bit of a love story, and some silly antics that you know wouldn't have happened. But as it plays out, you really start to get into the characters a little, well as much as you can anyway. And yes, you will have to put up with (or fast forward through) an entire auditorium singing the Bombardier anthem.
The film takes on a more serious tone, though, as the cadets near graduation, right about the same time as Pearl Harbor, and after a rather horrific accident. I was actually surprised to see them portray such a terrible accident in a film like this. It really sinks home just how dangerous and "seat of the pants" the somewhat new business of military aviation was.
Then there's the actual bombing run over Nagoya, which initially goes terribly wrong, but through some Hollywood heroism turns out alright (well for most of our boys) in the end.
There are some aspects of this film which might interest the aviation buffs out there, namely the numerous appearances by the B-25 Mitchell and the B-17 Flying Fortress. And a few scenes where they demonstrate some of the absolutely ingenious devices used to train these guys. I mean brilliant. The tabletop bomb trajectory simulator was my personal favorite.
I'll give it a seven, just because it is a lot of fun. Probably more like a 6.8 or so, but I just can't bear to dock an effort like this too much.
It also appears that Bombardier doesn't exist yet on DVD, so a big thanks once again to Turner Classic Movies for throwing this one out there!
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Summary: There are some aspects of this film which might interest the aviation buffs out there, namely the numerous appearances by the B-25 Mitchell and the B-17 Flying Fortress. And a few scenes where they demonstrate some of the absolutely ingenious devices used to train these guys. I mean brilliant. The tabletop bomb trajectory simulator was my personal favorite.