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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Flying Tigers (1942)


Starring: John Wayne, John Carroll and Anna Lee
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £15.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 17 June 2019

Jim Gordon heads a group of volunteer pilots who are helping the Chinese fight the invading Japanese. When a new recruit arrives, Jim realises that his friend’s arrogance and inability to work with the team mean that he is as much a risk to Jim’s pilots as he is to the Japanese...

Flying Tigers (B&W. 1942. 1 hr, 41 min, 34 sec) is a war time propaganda film, directed by David Miller. The film is very loosely based on the American Volunteer Group of the Chinese air force.

It must be remembered that the film was made at a time when America was at war with Japan, and the story of a few plucky Americans holding back the Japanese horde was just the sort of story the American people were looking for. Before we all get bent out of shape over an overly jingoistic American film, we must remember that all countries, including Great Britain, produced them.

The leads are taken by John Wayne (Jim Gordon), his hot shot friend is played by John Carrol (Woody Jason), with Anna Lee (Brooke Elliot) being thrown in as a contested love interest.

The story plays out as you would think it would, with tensions increasing between the strait-laced Gordon and the maverick Jason. The ending of the film brings redemption for Elliot and Gordon gets to walk into the sunset with the girl. It’s not a deep plot and there is some contention that the narrative was stolen from another film.

But, that’s not really the object of the film. This is about a few brave men shooting down the Japanese with their superior numbers. To this end the film uses a combination of stock footage and model work. Given the speed at which the film was made, the effects are not all that bad, even if the politics are a bit iffy today.

The film looks pretty good, having been taken from the HD master. Given the age of the film there are no extras.

So, it's not a great film, it’s not even a great war film. Wayne plays, as always, Wayne. In the end it’s not better or worse than a lot of the sabre-rattling films made at that time.


Charles Packer

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