Air Force (1943) - Rotten Tomatoes

Air Force (1943)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

On December 6, 1941, a squadron of nine B-17 bombers takes off for Hickam Field, HI. The crew of the Mary Ann, including two new men, assistant radio man Private Chester (Ray Montgomery) and gunner Sergeant Joe Winocki (John Garfield), assembles for the flight, and in the first 20 minutes, the movie reveals certain things about the crew: the shadowy past of one, the mother of another, and the wife of a third; two of them are good friends with the sister of McMartin (Arthur Kennedy), the bombardier, who lives in Honolulu; the son of the senior member of the crew, Sgt. White (Harry Carey Sr.), is a pilot stationed at Clark Field in the Philippines. Then more characters make entrances: the aircraft commander Quincannon (John Ridgely); Weinberg (George Tobias), a Jewish mechanic from New York; and a man from a farm in the upper Midwest -- they all represent a broad cross-section of America as it saw itself, and the "regular guys" in the Army Air Force as it existed in 1941. The flight proceeds without incident. Winocki, an embittered, washed-out flight school candidate who accidentally killed another pilot, is about to leave the service when the weather report from Hickam Field is interrupted, and the radio man begins picking up transmissions in Japanese. The Mary Ann and the rest of the squadron fly right into the middle of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor unarmed and out of gas, and nearly crack up landing on an emergency field; no sooner do they make repairs than the crew comes under attack, and the plane takes off and makes for Hickam Field, which they find a flaming shambles. They fly on to the Philippines, stopping at Wake Island just long enough to meet a few members of the doomed Marine garrison, taking their company mascot, a dog, with them. At Clark Field, the Mary Ann and her crew finally go into action against the enemy, flying in alone against a Japanese invasion force; Quincannon is mortally wounded in the brief action, which leaves the plane damaged seemingly beyond repair. The remaining crew won't give up the plane, however, even when ordered to abandon and destroy her; they get the bomber off just ahead of the advancing Japanese, and survive to help bring retribution to the invading fleet and the Japanese empire. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Dudley Nichols
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 5, 2007


John Garfield
as Aerial Gunner
Gig Young
as Co-Pilot
Arthur Kennedy
as Bombardier
Faye Emerson
as Susan McMartin
John Ridgely
as Capt. Mike Quincanno...
Charles Drake
as Lt. Munchauser
Harry Carey
as Sgt. Robby White
George Tobias
as Cpl. Weinberg
Ward Wood
as Cpl. Peterson
Ray Montgomery
as Pvt. Chester
James Brown
as Lt. Tex Rader
Stanley Ridges
as Major Mallory
Willard Robertson
as Colonel at Hickam Fi...
Moroni Olsen
as Col. Blake
Edward S. Brophy
as Sgt. J.J. Callahan
Richard Lane
as Major W.G. Roberts
Bill Crago
as Lt. Moran
Addison Richards
as Major Daniels
James Flavin
as Major A.M. Bagley
Ann Doran
as Mary Quincannon
Dorothy Peterson
as Mrs. Chester
James Millican
as Marine with dog
William Forrest
as Jack Harper
Murray Alper
as Corporal of Demoliti...
George N. Neise
as Hickam Field Officer
Tom Neal
as Marine
Henry Blair
as Quincannon's son
Warren Douglas
as Control officer
Ruth Ford
as Nurse
Leah Baird
as Nurse No. 2
George Offerman Jr.
as Ground Crewman
James Bush
as Clark Field Control ...
Theodore von Eltz
as First Lieutenant
Rand Brooks
as Co-pilot
Ross Ford
as Second Lieutenant
George Offerman
as Ground crewman
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Air Force

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (4)

Although it draws about the longest and most pliant bow that has ever been drawn in the line of fanciful war films and goes completely overboard in the last reel, it is still a continuously fascinating, frequently thrilling and occasionally exalting show.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Howard Hawks finds a perfect vehicle for his study of the male group. William Faulkner polished the dialogue, but as a silent it would still be tremendously exciting and evocative.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A cheery bit of war propaganda that feels cringeworthy today, in which American soldiers seem extraordinarily giddy about the prospect of near-certain death, coupled with some terrible special-effects miniatures.

Full Review… | January 16, 2012
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The versatile Howard Hawks combines personal experience and knowing skills in directing this enjoyable WWII propaganda movie, which was nominated for four Oscars, winning one for editing.

Full Review… | July 6, 2009

Audience Reviews for Air Force


Excellent story with a terrific cast, with John Garfield standing out the most. One of the best World War II films, although the story has the usual propaganda angle to it, but it was typical of the time. The story is excellent, and it's rousing with a great score.

James Higgins

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