In 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by The Japanese Army. Many have fallen and risked their lives to save their comrades in a tragic event that’ll never be forgotten as Americans will continue to educate children about World War II. In response to the attack, The U.S. Army decided to recruit cadets to aid allied forces against “Axis Powers”. While the war was ongoing at the time, Hollywood produced World War II related movies to the public as sign to promote recruitment for anybody willing to risk their lives protecting America. One movie called, “Flying Tigers” was made starring screen legend, John Wayne (one of my favorite actors) in his first ever war movie outside the western genre he’s primarily known for many generations from past to present.
Flying Tigers was released in 1942. (same year Citizen Kane came out) It earned good reviews from critics and movie goers alike as well as making enough revenue at the box office.
This review doesn’t contain no SPOILERS, because this is an obscure John Wayne movie. Feel free to read my non-spoiler article. I’ll have you know this is a short review because it’s not really an epic movie worth a lot of coverage so bear with me.
Positive & Negative Qualities
Positive: John Wayne did a decent job for his performance as Col. Jim Gordon. I’m not kidding, he shares the exact same name as Commissioner Jim Gordon from Batman.
Fun Fact: This is actually John Wayne’s first war movie.
The film is a depiction of the real life titular squadron of fighter pilots defending China from The Japanese Army connected to Axis Powers.
Dog Fight Sequences are pretty good for a movie released in 1942.
Practical Effects were used to bring aerial combat to life.
Designs of the jets with shark teeth on the front looked creative.
Set Pieces were manually constructed by set decorators.
Cinematography never had any technical problems.
Negative: Although The Duke did good for his performance, a few cast members’ acted hokey this was back when Hollywood had rapid talking. Woody’s voice reminded me of Mikey’s singing voice off of “Recess.” Does Robert Goulet ring any bells? If not, watch Will Ferrell’s impersonation of the late singer.
Other Characters outside Gordon & Woody (a dollar store version of Clark Gable) are forgettable. I couldn’t even remember the names of secondary characters.
Woody entertaining a group of kids by showing magic tricks seemed a bit out of place. It’s as if a generic brand of Rhett Butler from “Gone With The Wind” is entertaining troops.
Not to sound like a whiny person, but there are very few negative stereotypes of Chinese people. Let’s face it, this was back when Hollywood was racist towards almost everybody. I pity some racial groups going through tough times when in comes to racism. Thank god we changed. If John were alive today, he would’ve transformed his perception on diversity.
The Final Verdict: B-
Flying Tigers is an average war movie with some good moments. It’s not a masterpiece nor a disaster. John Wayne is a redeeming factor of the whole movie. Without him, Flying Tigers could’ve been more forgettable. If you’re a huge fan of John Wayne like me, go ahead and give this obscure war movie a try.