Bombardier (1943)

Anne Shirley and Randolph Scott in Bombardier (1943)

Bomber Run

Released in 1943 "Bombardier" is a mix of propaganda movie and war time drama as it extols the virtues of those who went through the training to be bombers, the pilots which flew them and the hatred of the enemy. And I would hope back in 1943 "Bombardier" worked to lift Americans to not just fight and enlist to become bombers but to appreciate those who already put their lives on the line. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly watching "Bombardier" now is not such a good experience and it sadly seems fake and corny, which is not just unique to this movie as so many wartime propaganda movies suffer from the same issue.

Whilst Capt. Buck Oliver (Randolph Scott - My Favorite Wife) believes the pilots and dive bombers are the greatest asset in the sky he finds himself having to go along with a new train of thought lead by Maj. Chick Davis (Pat O'Brien - Some Like It Hot) who champions the work of the bombardiers. Together they find themselves both in senior positions at a training school where a mixed bunch of recruits go through the training to become bombardiers and they also find themselves both rivalling each other for pretty assistant Burton Hughes (Anne Shirley) although one of the young recruits is sweet on her as well.

Pat O'Brien and Anne Shirley in Bombardier (1943)

Watching "Bombardier" now, 70 years after it was released it feels wrong to criticize it because back in 1943 this movie was made with a purpose or in fact several. We have the element of showing people the sort of training which went on to become a bombardier and in doing so encourage others to think about becoming one. At the same time it shows that even if you don't make it as a bombardier there is always a position for you somewhere else. With all this going on we also have the aspect of respect as we see the heroics of the men who become not just bombardiers but also pilots, issues during training highlight their bravery and with the climax of the movie coming after the Pearl Harbor attack we get more heroics. And talking of which "Bombardier" also serves the purpose of stirring up anger against the enemy which is what you expect.

The trouble is that watching it "Bombardier" now it ends up seriously fake and often bordering on the corny. Part of the problem arises from the fact there is no real storyline rather than a series of dramas which happen during training from a plane's autopilot sticking on to a faulty oxygen mask but there is little to really connect all of this. So okay there is the camaraderie of the men going through training and we also have the small romantic subplot which is played out in a typical light hearted manner but it does struggle to flow despite actually being interesting. But then it is also corny and the ending of "Bombardier" with a series of outrageous events is now laughable, I won't say too much other than to say a scene where Buck gets closure on an issue is simply wrong.

Now talking of Buck we have Randolph Scott and in fairness a lot of other actors including Pat O'Brien, Robert Ryan and Eddie Albert but none of them deliver anything remarkable. In fact in the end it is Anne Shirley as Burton Hughes who grabs your attention the most because she is one of only a few women in the movie.

What this all boils down to is that "Bombardier" is a typically rousing propaganda movie from the 1940s which probably worked back then. But watching now 70 years after it was released it does sadly feel fake and often corny like many of these propaganda movies now do.