Saturday, September 21, 2013


For years I would off and on think that I should try and find out the name of a highly entertaining film this aviation nut saw as a kid. On a Saturday morning back in 1973 or '74, CKVR played a movie about WW2 U.S. Naval aviators and their blimps and their interpersonal relationships (loves). I had remembered there was a strong father/son dynamic, and therefore tense relationship, as a main thrust of the story.

Early this morning I thought about the movie and decided to use the power of the Internet and a 'search'. To make a short story even shorter, the results gave me a film which immediately struck me as "the one"... "the great elusive one": The picture is This Man's Navy (1945), which featured actors Wallace Beery, Tom Drake, and James Gleason.

No surprise to me: The actioner, and 'lover', was directed by William A. Wellman. Movie fans will know he directed 1927's Wings, an entertaining Oscar-winning (the first) blockbuster which showcased superb aviation scenes featuring real aircraft. (One of my memories of This Man's Navy, was the superior 'model work'. I had thought that perhaps the Lydecker brothers, Howard and Theodore, executed them; but it was in fact A. Arnold Gllespie. The main attraction for an aviation fan, of course, was the 'flying' footage -- real or model.)

Director Wellman served in WW1 with the Lafayette Flying Corps, flying Nieuport 17s and 24s. It was only natural that a section of his eventual filmography would consist of several aviation-themed films, including This Man's Navy. (Some others: Young Eagles [1930], Central Airport [1933], The High and the Mighty [1954], and Lafayette Escadrille [1958].)

Now... I have to find a print of This Man's Navy....

This Man's Navy's_Navy


Greg Woods said...

It's on TCM this Thursday. I'll try to tape it for you.

Barry Smight said...

Thank you!