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Ladies Courageous

Ladies Courageous(1944)

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The working title of this film was When Ladies Fly. The film begins with the following written foreword: "Thousands of airplanes are rolling off the assembly line in our factories destined for the Allied fighter pilots and combat crews all over the world. Delivering these planes safely and in the shortest possible time is one of the great jobs of this war and the men and women of the Air Transport Command can be justly proud of their record. This story is about that small band of women who-from all walks of life-pioneered the formation of the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron." The New York Times review pointed out that the film received official government approval, as it had been "sanctioned by the United States Army Air Force as the official motion-picture of the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, now known as the WASPS. Women's Air Force Service Pilots."
       According to a memorandum prepared by Col. Curtis Mitchell, Chief of the Pictorial Branch, to the assistant of the Director for the U.S. Army Air Forces, located in NARS, the genesis of Ladies Courageous began on September 22, 1942 when Col. Mason Wright, the chief of the motion picture branch of the War Department Bureau of Public Relations, suggested to producer Walter Wanger that a film be made about WAFS. After registering the script idea, Wanger was allowed to visit the WAFS at Newcastle, in Wilmington, Delaware. A script by Norman Reilly Raine and Doris Gilbert, under the title When Ladies Fly, was later submitted to the War Department on May 27, 1943, and was approved without objections on 8 June 1943.
       Once the film began production, however, Wanger encountered military interference when he attempted to film some scenes at the Army Air Base at Long Beach, CA. Mitchell's memorandum refers to a letter, dated November 24, 1943, in which Wanger states that a Col. Westlake informed him that the Army had reversed its position on the film, stating that the picture was now out of date due to the incorporation of the WAFS into the WASPS and that the air service would not be providing the necessary equipment to make the film. A letter was then sent to Wanger on September 6, 1943, stating that approval of When Ladies Fly had been officially withdrawn because of script changes and that the current shooting script contained twelve elements to which the Army objected.
       After meeting with Army Air Forces' representatives, Wanger proved that the film, already well into its $900,000 production budget, was being "filmed in accordance with approved script of 8 June 1943, and that deletions requested on 6 September 1943 were originally authorized in script approval by the War Department on 8 June 1943." Mitchell then pointed out that, although Wanger would have been fully within his rights to continue filming the original script, "being handicapped at this point by having cooperation withheld, he [Wanger] had no alternative but to comply with the request [script changes]." Mitchell then concluded the memorandum by noting that because Ladies Courageous contained no security violations, the military was being "portrayed with respect" and all necessary script changes had been made, the War Department was "then bound by its established policies to approve the [film's] release."
       Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts include Ramsay Ames and Vivian Austin in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.