Published on July 30th, 2007 | by Chris0
Flying Tigers (1942)
1942's Flying Tigers pays homage to the group of American volunteers who risked their lives to help the Chinese under Japanese occupation before World War II.
John Wayne stars as Capt. Jim Gordon, in a role (although not the same character) he would play several more times in his career, such as in Flying Leathernecks, and The Sands of Iwo Jima. The tough-as-nails, yet thoughtful and sort-of sensitive role model that the men in his command (and audiences) could look up to. John Carroll plays "Woody" Jason, the brash, cocky, young pilot who joins up after quitting his commercial pilot job. And Anna Lee plays their common love interest, nurse Brooke Elliot.
The plot? Well, to be honest there isn't much of a plot to speak of. The Japanese drop bombs, the Tigers go up to shoot them down, and the two guys vie for the heart of the drop-dead gorgeous nurse. Really that's about it. In between there are some interludes involving the other pilots, Jason's crashing (twice no less), and a look at the Chinese orphanage where Elliot works.
That's the great part about this film, the way in which the Tigers are portrayed both as selfless heroes and real human beings, all at the same time. The plight of the Chinese is outlined fairly well, which shows, quite effectively why they were there.... And drives home the nation's feelings when Dec. 7, 1941 rolls around.
At that point, the Tigers' overseer, Col. Lindsay shows up, and asks Gordon to effectively make a suicide run on a Japanese supply route. Of course Jason goes along for the ride, and ends up redeeming his character in grand style, but not before delivering a speech worthy of the Flying Tigers.
Its also unfortunate the treatment the Chinese were given in the film. Yes, I know it was 1942 and stereotypes were inevitable, but some of the ones presented here are just plain silly. Especially the restaurant owner.
As for the performances, well, again, I can't say that they're stellar or anything. But then again they didn't need to be. Wayne is, well, himself. What more can you say about that?
Flying Tigers does what it sets out to do, pay much-needed respect to the fighter squadron of the same name, and in that regard it still holds up, and carries a lot of weight today. To top it off you get to see a lot of Curtiss P-40s in action, which is always welcome in my book.
Its a lot of fun, and manages to be serious in the process, but doesn't make you pay for it emotionally like a lot of modern films do. Seems like I say that a lot about these classics, but it really is true.
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John Wayne plays the tough commander of Flying Tigers, the famous fighter squadron that fought to save China from the Japanese. Wayne finds he is fighting a war on two fronts: he's taking on the enemy with only a handful of inexperienced men and patched-up planes while keeping a cocky new pilot from stealing his girl...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: John Wayne
Manufacturer: Republic Pictures
Original Release Date:
- John Wayne
- John Carroll
- Anna Lee
- Paul Kelly
- Gordon Jones
Summary: Its a lot of fun, and manages to be serious in the process, but doesn't make you pay for it emotionally like a lot of modern films do. Seems like I say that a lot about these classics, but it really is true.