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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

GOD IS MY CO-PILOT (1945)

With the war nearing an end, Warners rolled out the ‘B’-team for this fact-inspired fancy on the famed China-based Flying Tigers fighter pilots. Dennis Morgan is his usual blandly pleasant self as real-life Col. Robert Scott, advancing from supply runs to bombing missions only to face a ‘what’s-it-all-about-God?’ personal moment. Thankfully, Alan Hale’s on hand as a missionary priest to let him know that . . . well, see the title. With personal backstory & group camaraderie but lightly sketched, the main focus goes to the action stuff; standard issue, like the rest of the film. But between process work, stock shots & newsreel combat footage, some airborne take-downs retain impact. And, in the film’s best sequence, Scott’s one-man attack on a Burma Road Japanese military convoy is exceptional. But who did it? Journeyman helmer Robert Florey? Asst. Lester Guthrie? Unlikely. Maybe Robert Burks & Roy Davidson, credited on the exploding aircraft F/X, were in charge? Elsewise, enjoy the good Franz Waxman score; be mildly appalled by an unusually high level of verbal Jap-bashing*; note a third-billed Dane Clark with only eight minutes screen time; and check out the tropical make-up on Raymond Massey’s Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault, a Louisiana native of French stock. What ethnicity was Perc Westmore going for?

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: *As ‘Tokyo Joe,’ the Flying Tigers’ arch-enemy in the sky, Richard Loo earns credit for giving as good as gets in the trash-talk department . . . the buck-toothed heathen! (Actually, he has excellent teeth.)

DOUBLE-BILL: Warners spent more time & energy considering God’s position on warfare in SERGEANT YORK/’41. But then, that came out a couple of months before Pearl Harbor

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