Leigh's Double Rockets
As a fan of John Wayne I often find myself defending some of his movies but sometimes you just can't defend them and "Jet Pilot" is one of those movies. What "Jet Pilot" should be about is a female Russian spy who maybe defecting to America and so we have this storyline full of anti-communism as she sees how good America is. But what "Jet Pilot" is about is planes and Janet Leigh's gravity defying breasts which is not so much of a surprise when you realise Howard Hughes helped produce the movie. It makes it one corny movie, one of the corniest as scene after scene is either shots of planes in the air, Janet Leigh's shapely figures or some terrible flirtations. In fact "Jet Pilot" almost becomes entertaining for being bad.
When a Russian plane is spotted in American airspace the air force coax it down and Col. Jim Shannon (John Wayne - The Searchers) and his men are in for a shock when they discover the pilot is Lt. Anna Marladovna (Janet Leigh - The Naked Spur) a shapely woman with a flirtatious nature. Ordered to get close to Anna to try and get secrets Jim and Anna end up falling for each other but that makes matters much more complicated when the truth over Anna being a Russian spy comes out.
Okay so focusing on the storyline for a minute and what we have is this playful romantic drama as Jim and Anna fall in love. It is the basis of what is really a series of double crosses as we have spying and nefarious officers using both Jim and Anna to try and get enemy secrets. All of which is weak but amusing but also lays way for what is really an anti-communism movie as Anna discovers so much freedom in America from hot water to big slabs of steak. It is not clever and not subtle in the slightest and to be honest despite trying to find some drama is not really dramatic.
Now the trouble is comes from producer Howard Hughes because his finger prints are all over the movie. For most of the first half we get a lot of impressive but over long in air shots of planes flying which when you consider that this movie was actually made in 1949 and shelved for eight years do impress. But we also get numerous scenes which are dominated by Leigh's shapely figures and her flirtations with Wayne which whilst entertaining are corny. Much of the corniness comes from the dialogue which when they go flying together is excruciating. It is because of this that "Jet Pilot" is on the verge of being so bad it is good and if it hadn't tried to deliver drama towards then end it would have achieved it.
As such you have to say that whilst John Wayne looks handsome in uniform he is only playing a variation on himself and one which is comically horny. And you also have to say that most of the scenes he is in are stolen by Janet Leigh, partly because her figure is eye catching but her beauty and playfulness makes you smile. But their characters are thin as are all the characters and comically corny especially when it comes to an evil Russian general.
What this all boils down to is that "Jet Pilot" is a bad movie and almost becomes good because of being bad. It is through and through a Howard Hughes movie which means his obsession with planes is only distracted by his obsession with the shapely figure which this time is Janet Leigh's gravity defying breasts.