CAPTAIN OF THE CLOUDS

(1942)
With James Cagney, Dennis Morgan, Alan Hale Sr., Brenda Marshall, George Tobias, Reginald Gardner
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Reviewed by JB

     Take away the beautiful Canadian scenery and splendid aerial photography shot  in glorious Technicolor and you've still got a typical Warner Brothers picture, where the dames are as tough as the guys and everybody spends half the movie exchanging wise cracks and beating the hell out of each other.  Where characters actually say things like "Why, you dirty, lowdown, good for nothing..." along with more original lines like "I have no money and he's trying to borrow it.".  Like many Warner Brothers movies of the period, CAPTAIN OF THE CLOUDS attempts to be several movies at once and doesn't give a damn if one of them doesn't fit in with the rest.  Hell, in this tale of rugged and hard-drinking Canadian Bush Pilots who join the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, they even find time for a standard Warner Brothers nightclub scene.

    The first half of the film is the more raucous and entertaining, as Cagney, as renegade Bush Pilot Brian McLean, makes trouble for his fellow pilots.  It has the flavor of such fun Cagney projects as THE TORRID ZONE or THE FIGHTING 69TH, with Cagney as a firecracker s.o.b. who doesn't give a damn about anybody but himself.  In the second hour, it becomes a standard WWII flag-waver, though a historically interesting one.  Canada, then part of the British Commonwealth, was assisting Britain in the War, while the U.S. remained neutral.  CAPTAIN OF THE CLOUDS, filmed entirely in Canada, was dedicated to the RCAF as well as to the actual student pilots who participated in the film and were then shipped out to see action in Europe.  It is easy to appreciate the sentiment behind the film, but the first half is still more memorable with the usual outstanding work from such Warner stalwarts as Alan Hale and George Tobias, whose attempt at a French accent wouldn't fool Pepe Le Pew. 3½ - JB

James Cagney     The Stuff You Gotta Watch Home Page


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