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also known as A Story of a Flying Fortress

The Memphis Belle1944

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  • 3.9
Shot in 1943, THE MEMPHIS BELLE was helmed by Academy Award® winning director William Wyler. It chronicles the twenty-fifth and final combat mission of a B-17 crew. A moving and real portrait of courage, it was endorsed by President Franklin Roosevelt and shown throughout the United States on his order. While dramatizations like TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH and the Matthew Modine film MEMPHIS BELLE have their place, the original documentary has a reality and drama that is unparalleled. It's simply the most definitive chronicle of the air war in Europe as fought by American bomber crews.

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1 member likes this review

Important, rare primary source for WWII air war. Makes a lot of sense that William Wyler would go from this war effort documentary to "Best Years of Our Lives."

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filmmaker

Member Reviews (4)

111244.small
filmmaker

Important, rare primary source for WWII air war. Makes a lot of sense that William Wyler would go from this war effort documentary to "Best Years of Our Lives."

1 member likes this review
81629.small
top reviewer

Wow! Never made that connection between Dana Andrews wandering in the B-17 graveyard, the flight home in the bombardier's compartment, and other moments in "Best Year's of Our Lives" and "Memphis Belle." Wyler had been through it himself. Thanks for the observation!

81629.small
top reviewer

This wartime documentary is still pretty engrossing, 69 years after its release. In fact, the film's ancient, blotchy Technicolor, extreme contrasts of light and shadow, give it a strange, dream-like quality, almost as if we are looking directly at the past through some sort of Time Warp. It all seems very real, as if we could reach out and tough the grass of the English countryside in 1943, or one of the Airmen's leather jackets.

There is a blunt, business-like tone in the narration and the images. The flag-waving patriotic cheers from Hollywood's first years at war have given away to dogged determination and pragmatism: this is a job that has to be done, and that's about it. You can see this subdued approach to storytelling--the monotone narrator and the documentary-style approach--throughout the post-war years in countless war movies and police procedurals. This is the same tone of voice you hear on episodes of "Dragnet," the same sense of purpose...get the job done. "Memphis Belle" is a template for what was to come...after the last B-17 landed and the surviving crews got to come home.

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awesome