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The Wild Blue Yonder

The Wild Blue Yonder(1951)

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NOTES

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The working title of this film was Wings Across the Pacific. The opening title card reads: "The Wild Blue Yonder, The Story of the B-29 Superfortress." A written prologue thanks the men and women of the United States Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense for their assistance and participation. Voice-over narration, spoken by Wendell Corey as "Capt. Harold Calvert," is heard intermittently throughout the film. A February 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Sterling Hayden had been cast as one of the leads, but he did not appear in the final film. The Wild Blue Yonder marked the first time that Terry Kilburn, a child actor of the 1930s and 1940s, appeared under the name Martin Kilburn. "The Thing," as sung in the film by Phil Harris, was a hit song in 1951.
       As depicted in The Wild Blue Yonder, during World War II, in response to the U.S. War Department's request for a long-range bomber that could carry a heavier payload for longer distances, the Boeing Company designed the B-29. Being the first aircraft capable of reaching Japan from available airbases while carrying 20,000 pounds of bomb payload, B-29s were used in a strategic bombing effort against that country beginning in June 1944. After bases were built in the Mariana Islands, sustained air attacks were conducted during the night from 9 March through June 15, 1945, targeting urban industrial areas of Japan. Two B-29s, the Enola Gay and the Bockscar, dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945.
       Portions of the film were shot at March Field Air Base and Mojave Airport Marine Base in CA; Davis-Monthan Field in Tucson, AZ; and Walker B29 Air Force Base in Roswell, NM, according to February and March 1951 Hollywood Reporter news items. A modern source states that the aerial scenes of the bombing of Tokyo were filmed above Catalina Island. Brief scenes in the film recreate the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima and Sgt. Henry "Red" Erwin's saving of the aircraft, City of Los Angeles. Erwin was paid a $1,500 "portrayal fee" for the scene, according to a modern source. The same source stated that Republic sought permission to quote Winston Churchill in the prologue of the film, but Churchill declined. The film was re-released in 1958. On September 24, 1951, Wendell Corey, Vera Ralston and Forrest Tucker recreated brief scenes from the picture for a special Lux Radio Theatre broadcast honoring the 50th anniversary of motion pictures.