Thunder Birds

  • 1942
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

In the opening months of U.S. involvement in WW II, Foster is a flight instructor--a WW I veteran--teaching an international group of pilot trainees at a remote base in the Arizona desert. He is in love with Tierney, the daughter of a nearby rancher, but has a rival for her affections in the person of one of his students, Britisher Sutton. Sutton is stricken...read more

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In the opening months of U.S. involvement in WW II, Foster is a flight instructor--a WW I veteran--teaching an international group of pilot trainees at a remote base in the Arizona desert. He is in love with Tierney, the daughter of a nearby rancher, but has a rival for her affections in

the person of one of his students, Britisher Sutton. Sutton is stricken with nausea whenever he goes up and is in danger of washing out, but Foster pays special attention to him despite rivalry off the base. Sutton makes the grade, graduating as a combat pilot and winning Tierney. Foster remains

in the desert, dutifully turning out more pilots for the war effort. Not one of director Wellman's more memorable efforts, this is one of two films he was forced to accept without question under the terms of a contract he signed with Darryl F. Zanuck at 20th Century-Fox that allowed the director

to make his coveted OX-BOW INCIDENT, but bound him to the studio for five years. The film's flying sequences are excellent--as one would expect from a director whose best work was usually aviation-related--but there's a minimum of flying here, little more than establishing shots, and far too much

time is spent on the romantic triangle, the resolution of which is obvious from the outset. Perhaps the most interesting moment in the film comes when Foster sits down with Sutton to give him a pep talk and tells the young flier that he had known Sutton's father during WW I. He pulls a picture of

Sutton's father out of his wallet and shows it to the young man. The photo is actually Wellman himself from that war, posing in front of one of his planes in a heavy fur coat. When Sutton visits his grandmother, Whitty, she has a large portrait of Wellman over her mantel. Competent performances,

decent direction, and attractive color photography helped a little, but the film was mostly a routine, maudlin, wartime romance, and it was far from successful.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: In the opening months of U.S. involvement in WW II, Foster is a flight instructor--a WW I veteran--teaching an international group of pilot trainees at a remote base in the Arizona desert. He is in love with Tierney, the daughter of a nearby rancher, but h… (more)

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