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Bombardier

Bombardier(1943)

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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 Hollywood Reporter 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 January 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 After the U.S. entered the war, however, the War Department rescinded its permission to film at the school because of a recently enacted prohibition on the filming of defense efforts.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 March 1942, Espy quit over script differences and Wead left the studio to return to Naval service. In late April 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 October 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. Hollywood Reporter announced in late April 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 Hollywood Reporter, 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.