Flight for Freedom (1943)
Flight of Fancy
It's a strange experience watching "Flight for Freedom" now, 70 years after it was released for the simple fact we have a fictionalized version of the Amelia Earhart story which at the time serve to cause a patriotic frenzy. And it almost feels wrong to have used the death of Earhart in this way because of the conspiracy it comes up with surrounding her death or should I say Tonie Carter's death because whilst obviously based on Earhart Rosalind Russell plays a character with a different name. Having said that when you take into account when it was made you can see why because not only does it do the job of causing hate of the enemy it also infuses the watcher with patriotic pride and the sense that no matter who you are you have a part to play.
There is a lot to like about "Flight for Freedom" none more so than the start which sews the seed of thought over how the US Military got pictures of the secret Japanese islands where the air space was forbidden. It makes you think as to how the following drama might play out as we are then taken back to 1932 and Tonie Carter learning to fly. Now what follows for the first three quarters is basically a potted history of Carter (Earhart) as we have Carter becoming the record breaking darling of the skies whilst also throwing in a romantic subplot with pilot Randy Britton. It's sort of entertaining but other than establishing Tonie as being Earhart it sort of meanders.
Where "Flight for Freedom" does get interesting is when we get Tonie planning to fly solo around the World because this is where the conspiracy idea is introduced as we see Tonie agree to help the military by purposefully going missing on her around the world flight so that search teams could enter the secret islands of Japan looking for her. And in fairness it is a clever idea which does put thoughts into your head over maybe there is some truth to them and as things play out it does a good job of making the audience think about what they can do for their country and the sacrifices of doing your duty. It basically serves the purpose it set out to do and whilst the first three quarters are not brilliant the final quarter makes it all worth watching. But as I already said whilst this movie was made with a patriotic purpose it does feel a bit wrong that they used the death of Amelia Earhart in this way.
Aside from the storyline which comes up with a cleverish conspiracy theory there is Rosalind Russell as Tonie Carter and whilst Russell delivers a beautiful performance of a plucky, beautiful pilot who attacks things with gusto it is not that memorable. In fact all the performances which include Fred MacMurray as love interest Randy Britton are all pretty ordinary and forgettable.
What this all boils down to is that "Flight for Freedom" probably worked a lot better when it came out in 1943 and did a good job of whipping up patriotic frenzy. But watching it now it is quite ordinary and there are much better movies from the time which did the same job.
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