Bombardier (1943)

97 or 99 mins | Drama | 14 May 1943

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HISTORY

The film opens with the following written introduction: "Through the courtesy of the War Department, RKO Radio Pictures proudly presents Brigadier General Eugene L. Eubank, United States Army Air Forces, American Bomber Commander in charge of the famous 19th Bombardment Squadron during the Philippine and Java campaigns." Eubank [whose name is not included within the onscreen cast credits] then speaks directly to the audience about a new kind of soldier known as the bombardier. At the end of his speech, a plane is shown dropping a bomb and the letters "Bombardier" appear on the screen. The production credits do not appear until the end of the film. They are preceded by the following acknowledgment: "RKO Radio Pictures gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of the United States Army Air Force, the Bomber Command, and the staff and officers of the Bombardier Training Organization at the Advanced Flying School, Kirtland Field, Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the making of this picture."
       News items in HR offer the following information regarding the film's production: In late 1941, Reeves Espy was slated to produce and Lt. Commander Frank Wead to script the film. In Jan 1942, the War Department granted RKO permission to film at Kirtland Field, the army Bombardier Training School in Albuquerque, NM. After the U.S. entered the war, however, the War Department rescinded its permission to film at the school because of a recently enacted prohibition on the filming of defense efforts. By Mar 1942, Espy quit over script differences and Wead left the studio to return to Naval service. In late Apr 1942, Richard Wallace was assigned to direct and Frank ... More Less

The film opens with the following written introduction: "Through the courtesy of the War Department, RKO Radio Pictures proudly presents Brigadier General Eugene L. Eubank, United States Army Air Forces, American Bomber Commander in charge of the famous 19th Bombardment Squadron during the Philippine and Java campaigns." Eubank [whose name is not included within the onscreen cast credits] then speaks directly to the audience about a new kind of soldier known as the bombardier. At the end of his speech, a plane is shown dropping a bomb and the letters "Bombardier" appear on the screen. The production credits do not appear until the end of the film. They are preceded by the following acknowledgment: "RKO Radio Pictures gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of the United States Army Air Force, the Bomber Command, and the staff and officers of the Bombardier Training Organization at the Advanced Flying School, Kirtland Field, Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the making of this picture."
       News items in HR offer the following information regarding the film's production: In late 1941, Reeves Espy was slated to produce and Lt. Commander Frank Wead to script the film. In Jan 1942, the War Department granted RKO permission to film at Kirtland Field, the army Bombardier Training School in Albuquerque, NM. After the U.S. entered the war, however, the War Department rescinded its permission to film at the school because of a recently enacted prohibition on the filming of defense efforts. By Mar 1942, Espy quit over script differences and Wead left the studio to return to Naval service. In late Apr 1942, Richard Wallace was assigned to direct and Frank Ryan to script the film, and Lee Tracy and June Havoc were being considered to play the leads. The extent of Ryan's contribution to the released film has not been determined. By early fall 1942, the studio was re-granted permission to film at Kirtland Field. Location shooting began with Joseph Biroc acting as cameraman and Doran Cox directing the second unit which filmed the takeoffs and landing of bombers and military personnel. By late Oct 1942, Lambert Hillyer joined the team to direct the aerial action sequences. The filming was accelerated in order to adhere to a schedule dictated by the army. The Tokyo bombing sequence was shot in Midland, TX.
       This film was former Warner Bros. producer Robert Fellow's first production for RKO. HR announced in late Apr 1943 that the film's world premiere was to take place at Kirtland Field and was to be attended by the stars and RKO executives. The premiere was to be followed by a three-day tour of Southwestern cities. According to other news items in HR , the picture was instrumental in boosting the careers of Robert Ryan, Walter Reed, Richard Martin and Russell Wade. This was Martin's first appearance as the character "Ignacius Chito Rafferty." In subsequent films, Martin played a cowboy by the name of "Chito Jose Gonzales Bustamente Rafferty." The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Special Effects. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15-May-43
---
Daily Variety
11 May 43
p. 3.
Film Daily
13 May 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 42
p. 1, 6
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 May 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 43
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
15-May-43
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Sep 42
p. 912.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 May 43
p. 1313.
New York Times
2 Jul 43
p. 15.
Variety
12 May 43
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
Dir of aerial action seq
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
SOURCES
SONGS
"Song of the Bombardier," music by M. K. Jerome, lyrics by Jack Scholl.
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 May 1943
Production Date:
12 October--18 December 1942
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 May 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12248
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
97 or 99
Length(in feet):
8,921
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8903
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Prior to the United States' entry into World War II, Major Chick Davis and Captain Buck Oliver of the United States Army Air Force argue about the most efficient bombing method. Buck, a pilot, advocates that pilots should dive bomb their own targets, while Chick argues for the high altitude precision bombing of the bombardier. In a contest between the two methods, the bombardiers win the challenge, and Chick is assigned to establish a school for bombardier training at Hughes Field in New Mexico. The field is run by Burton "Burt" Hughes, an attractive woman whose father was a respected general and with whom Buck is in love. Chick at first disapproves of Burt's presence at his school, but soon begins to rely on her efficiency. Although still convinced that bombardiers are inferior to pilots, Buck arrives at the base to fly the new trainees. Among the new cadets are Burt's brother Tom, Joe Connors, girl-crazed Ignacius "Chito" Rafferty, Paul Harris and Jim Carter, who develops a crush on Burt. While flying a mission one day, Buck disputes a bombardier's authority to decide a pilot's heading, prompting Chick to vow that when his trainees graduate, they will receive commissions that grant them equal rank with pilots. After passing their ground training, the cadets begin aerial training. While on a test flight, the controls on Buck's plane freeze, and Buck orders the cadets to parachute to safety. When Tom panics and refuses to jump, Carter knocks him unconscious and informs Buck that everyone has bailed out. After Buck jumps from the plane, Carter takes charge of the cockpit and ... +


Prior to the United States' entry into World War II, Major Chick Davis and Captain Buck Oliver of the United States Army Air Force argue about the most efficient bombing method. Buck, a pilot, advocates that pilots should dive bomb their own targets, while Chick argues for the high altitude precision bombing of the bombardier. In a contest between the two methods, the bombardiers win the challenge, and Chick is assigned to establish a school for bombardier training at Hughes Field in New Mexico. The field is run by Burton "Burt" Hughes, an attractive woman whose father was a respected general and with whom Buck is in love. Chick at first disapproves of Burt's presence at his school, but soon begins to rely on her efficiency. Although still convinced that bombardiers are inferior to pilots, Buck arrives at the base to fly the new trainees. Among the new cadets are Burt's brother Tom, Joe Connors, girl-crazed Ignacius "Chito" Rafferty, Paul Harris and Jim Carter, who develops a crush on Burt. While flying a mission one day, Buck disputes a bombardier's authority to decide a pilot's heading, prompting Chick to vow that when his trainees graduate, they will receive commissions that grant them equal rank with pilots. After passing their ground training, the cadets begin aerial training. While on a test flight, the controls on Buck's plane freeze, and Buck orders the cadets to parachute to safety. When Tom panics and refuses to jump, Carter knocks him unconscious and informs Buck that everyone has bailed out. After Buck jumps from the plane, Carter takes charge of the cockpit and saves Tom's life by unjamming the controls and landing the plane on its belly. Out of gratitude for saving her brother's life, Burt agrees to go out with Carter and they begin dating. Tom is considered for elimination from training because of his refusal to parachute, but Chick agrees to give him another chance. While piloting another flight, Buck's oxygen equipment fails and he passes out. When the plane suddenly plunges out of control, Tom falls out of the plane's escape hatch to his death. Although a board of inquiry finds Buck innocent of negligence, he requests a transfer and leaves without saying goodbye to Burt, who has taken a leave of absence. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the bombardiers win their commissions and are called into active service. Now a colonel, Chick asks Burt to marry him, but she refuses, telling him that he is too much like her father. At the airfield, as the bombardiers board their planes, Burt embraces Carter and asks Sergeant Dixon, Chick's assistant, to give Buck a letter telling him that he is forgiven. After crossing the Pacific and landing at an island base, Chick and Buck meet again. Chick tells Buck that his mission is to fly low over a Japanese base near Nagoya and light up the camp for a surprise bombing attack. That night, Buck and Dixon take off, but are shot down by the Japanese before completing their mission. After they are taken prisoner, Dixon remembers Burt's letter and is about to hand it to Buck when a Japanese soldier intercepts it. The Japanese then begin to torture the Americans to force them to divulge the location of their base. Just as a Japanese soldier begins to taunt them that their mission has been a failure, the hum of American bombers is heard overhead and the camp goes dark. In the ensuing chaos, Dixon is shot, but Buck escapes and drives a flaming truck through the camp, setting the base on fire and lighting it up for the bombardiers. In the air, the bombardiers drop their missiles on the target, knowing that a hit will mean Buck's death. As his comrades' bombs explode around him, Buck finds Burt's letter and dies a happy man. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.