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Air Force

Air Force(1943)

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The film begins with the following written foreword: "It is for us the living....to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced....It is...for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us...that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."-Abraham Lincoln. The film ends with the following written statement: "This story has a conclusion but not an end-for its real end will be the victory for which Americans-on land, on sea and in the air-have fought, are fighting now and will continue to fight until peace has been won. Grateful acknowledgement is given to the United States Army Air Force, without whose assistance this record could not have been filmed."
       Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Warner Bros. tried to borrow Alan Ladd from Paramount for a role in the film and cinematographer James Wong Howe replaced Tony Gaudio when the latter became ill. Because people on the West Coast were concerned about a Japanese invasion, the studio was unable to shoot locally any scenes with planes dressed to appear Japanese. For this reason, the aerial scenes were filmed at Drew Field in Tampa, FL and Randolph Field in San Antonio, TX. Several international airports were recreated for the film, including Hickam Air Force base in Honolulu, HI; Wake Air Force Base and Clark Field in Manila. Warner Bros. showed the film starting at 9:00 AM to accommodate defense workers on the graveyard shift. According to a press release included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, twenty-seven-year-old Captain Hewitt Wheless, whom modern sources say acted as a technical advisor, was commended by president Franklin D. Roosevelt after his B-17 was attacked by eighteen Japanese planes. Even though one of his crew members was killed and another wounded, Wheless completed his mission and returned to base. According to contemporary sources, the film was made at the suggestion of General H. H. (Hap) Arnold, Commander of the U.S. Air Forces.
       According to information in the Warner Bros. Collection at the USC Cinema-Television Library, Major Sam Triffy and Major Theron Coulter were assigned by the Army Air Force to act as technical advisors. A letter from the YMCA at the University of California, Berkeley, included in the Warner Bros. Collection, protests the film's portrayal of sabotage by Hawaiian Japanese on December 7, 1941. The letter states that reports of this activity were denied by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and Honolulu police chief William Gabrielson. Modern sources add the following information about the production: Major Triffy spent eight weeks assisting director Howard Hawks and writer Dudley Nichols in developing the story and dialogue and also did some of the stunt flying. Triffy was joined as technical advisor by Wheless during location shooting. The surface water combat sequences were shot on Santa Monica Bay before the screenplay was completed; although reviewers assumed the sea battle in the film was a recreation of the Battle of the Coral Sea, the miniature shooting had been completed before that battle took place. One modern source adds, however, that some real combat footage was included, probably from the Battle of the Coral Sea or Midway. (According to daily production reports in the Warner Bros. Collection, much of the miniature footage was shot in May and June of 1942. The first of several battles that comprised the battle of the Coral Sea began in early May 1942.) Modern sources also add that William Faulkner contributed to the screenplay. John O. Watson and Dudley Nichols wrote a novelization of the film that was published in 1943. George Amy received the Oscar for Best Editing. Dudley Nichols's screenplay was nominated for an Oscar; James Wong Howe, Elmer Dyer and Charles Marshall were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Black-and-White Cinematography; and Hans Koenekamp, Rex Wimpy and Nathan Levinson were nominated for Best Special Effects. Harry Carey reprised his role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on July 12, 1943, co-starring George Raft.