Flying Fortress (1942)

Flying Fortress (1942)

The beginning of the film introduces us to three characters we will come to know throughout the film. “Spence” (Richard Greene) is a rich bachelor who’s passion is trick flying. However for some reason he’s hired a pilot “Sky” Kelly (Donald Stewart) who is in the back seat of the plane while Spence is helping another man do some trick flying over New York. The plane crashes and Kelly is held responsible losing his pilot’s license. Leaving the courtroom Kelly’s sister Sydney (Carla Lehmann) is upset and tries to get her brother to appeal the ruling but Sky just wants to go away and hide. Sydney who happens to be a reporter decides to pursue Spence socially perhaps to get him to confess to his complicity. However she is found out when a society reporter catches them at Spence’s cabin in the woods. Spence is disillusioned with Sydney and discharges her without ever knowing that she is Sky’s sister.

Prior to Pearl Harbor the United States aided Britain’s war effort against Germany by supplying airplanes. These B-17s had to ferried across the Atlantic ocean which was being coordinated by Canada (or all of the characters are Canadian to begin with it was unclear to me). Poor bored Spence out of a sense of adventure or perhaps even guilt decides to join the effort by helping to fly the planes overseas. When he does some trick flying on his way into the base of operations he is thought not serious enough to be accepted. Basil Radford from several Alfred Hitchcock films plays the Captain in charge. Sullen Spence happens into the flight training room and finds that Sky Kelly is the instructor. After a brief scuffle with Sky Spence is hired to help because of a shortage of pilots and an abundance of planes to be ferried. Of course they are assigned to the same plane.

Sky & Spence fly a B-17 across the Atlantic. When they arrive at an airbase just outside London Sky meets DeBorah (Betty Stockfeld) who’s in the service and is smitten. The two pilots ride with “Debbie” into town while Sky flirts getting to know her better. They decide to have dinner together and Sky asks Spence if he would mind going to see his sister who’s working in London to ask her to join them later. When Spence gets to the news office he discovers that Sydney is Sky’s sister. She’s still upset with him (!) for the way he treated her (!) and has Spence throw out of her office. Later outside the rendezvous place Sky introduces his sister to Debbie and the three of them go into the club. Spence has gone there too and though he sits at a remote table is seen by Sydney while Debbie and Sky dance the night away. At the end of the evening Sky has finally decided to ask Sydney to dance and after he apologizes they become fast friends. Then an air raid siren sounds and Debbie must leave to discharge her responsibilities. The others decide to go with her after all Sydney’s a reporter and we get to see the horrors of what it was like living in London at the time when being bombed by Germany was a nightly occurrence (it looks like actual footage is used)

Sky & Spence return to Canada and sign up as pilots in their Air Force. The date is July 14 1941. After training et al they return to London to find Debbie & Sydney who seem to have become friends as well. Also coincidentally the men find themselves working for a British Wing Commander (Sidney King) who just happens to be Debbie’s brother (and a Lord). Their first mission is to fly to Berlin and destroy a plant which provides power to three German armament factories. Since this film is primarily propaganda you can probably guess the outcome of the mission. Of course there is some intrigue and some really AWFUL special effects besides a bunch of grimaces made to look like acting. I have to say that out of all of the obscure films I’ve reviewed recently this is one of the worst overall.

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