I’m back… talking aviation films…

It’s been a long time, but I’m back adding a few more Kb to my hosting account, this first post of 2016, has little to do with the world of Geo but is all to do with my other passion aviation.

As is the trend in almost all forms of online journalism and blogging (not much difference these days you may say..) I present to you a list of my favourite aviation films for you to watch on Netflix, Amazon , NowTV etc..

So in no particular order ,

Top Gun (1986)

Of course, Top Gun had a significant impact on me as student, resulting in me wandering around college in a flying suit with genuine US Navy VF-84 crew patches – I was always keen on authentic details.
A best selling 80’s soundtrack, Tony Scotts high energy direction, US Naval aviation at its peak and Meg Ryan – how could you not like this..
Completely missed the the homoerotic subtext at the time !

The Battle of Britain (1969)

Edward Fox parachuting from his burning Spitfire into a greenhouse and been offered a cigarette by schoolboy, “Thanks awfully, old chap!” he responds, there is the perfect encapsulation of the Battle of Britain to the British psyche. Guy Hamilton’s film needs to be seen in the full 70mm Panavision version to really appreciate the aerial sequences of (mostly) actual Spitfire and Hurricanes dogfighting with admittedly Spanish built  Messerschmitts and Heinkels. Contrast these wonderful scenes with ludicrous dogfights of Pearl Harbour or Red Tails,  why has nobody managed to do a realistic dogfight using CGI ?

The Dambusters (1955)

Another film deeply ingrained in the British consciousness, this famous film tells the story of  Operation Chastise the bombing of German Dams in 1943. The film to be honest is not great from the perspective of wonderful aerial sequences instead it masterfully illustrates the development of mines by Barnes Wallis and the sacrifice of war experienced by crews of 617 Squadron.  Despite it’s position in popular culture this is quite a serious film that examines the effect of conflict on the people involved especially Barnes Wallace played perfectly by  Michael Redgrave.

Hells Angels (1930)

Howard Hughes epic of 1930 so of course rather dated to modern eyes full of melodrama and over acting but the aerial sequences filmed  using real WW1 surplus aircraft and pilots are extraordinary.  The scale of these sequences are amazing, 80+ aircraft in the air flying around the camera aircraft, just imagine the results using modern GoPros !

Strategic Air Command (1955)

The early years of the Cold War when the American Defence Budget seemed to have no limit, and Propaganda was produced at a similar scale.  Jimmy Stewart, a genuine 8th Air Force Bomber Pilot, does his bit playing a baseball player recalled to serve in the Air Force.
The storyline is nothing to write home about, and the contrast with “The Dambusters” released the same year is notable, but the real stars are 1950’s B-36 and B-47 Bombers.

The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)

The Korean War has not featured very much in cinema and this 1950’s version of Top Gun stands out because of this and because it’s actually quite a cool and serious film.. The film builds slowly and despite some light relief from Helicopter Pilot Mikey Rooney, it develops into grim war drama with an unusual ending !

Always (1989)

The polar opposite  of  “The Bridges of Toko-Ri”, this is a romantic Steven Spielberg movie with WWII firebombers! A pilot is killed on a firefighting mission and his ghost then has the task of getting his girlfriend together with a younger fire bomber pilot….
Well thank heavens for the glorious old and battered A-26, Catalina, C-119 and Bellancas .
A remake of the 1943 “A Guy Named Joe”, this should not work, but I have a soft spot for Holly Hunter and warbirds… so there you go!

Missing in Action ?

The film I would not watch might surprise you; 633 Squadron,  great music – terrible everything else, the use of Airfix models on wires is unforgivable !

Fellow aviation enthusiasts.. what have I missed ?


8 replies on “I’m back… talking aviation films…”

It may be a bit out of line, but how about Doctor Strangelove? Definitely an aviation film in my book 🙂

Drifting from films a little but aviation nonetheless, your post prompted memories of a television series we used to watch on Friday nights as kids back when we lived in 1-and-a-half channel land in the south west of Ireland. It was called Baa Baa Black Sheep and was about a US air squadron based in the Pacific during WW2. Wikipedia entry mentions that some of the scenes from The Battle of Britain were included and that German markings can be seen at times! (The entry also suggests the series pioneered the use of helmet mounted cameras). My memories (foggy as they may be) are that the dogfight scenes were really good.

Thanks Reamonn, I had not heard of that series, guess it was not shown this side of the sea, but off to see what I can find on youtube now !

Not a very lengthy list, and missing lots of honourable mentions: “The Right Stuff”, “The Blue Max”, “Captains of the Clouds”, “30 Seconds Over Tokyo”, “Wings”?

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