Michael Curtiz' CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
This 1942 Technicolor film starring James Cagney has some of the most gorgeous aerial photography I’ve ever seen.
Cagney plays a brash and egotistical Canadian bush pilot who constantly rips off his friends in his pursuit of customers and business. The war intervenes. Cagney and his fellow bush pilots attempt to enlist in the Canadian Air Force but are told they are too old for combat and are given training jobs.
Cagney’s pilot never loses his selfish rebellious ways which end up causing grief for him and for others. At the end of the movie we have a standard Hollywood morality tale resolution where the bad guy saves his friends and redeems himself.
Michael Curtiz also directed Casablanca. He’s probably the main reason why this rather stock character study rises far beyond its rather hackneyed plot. Plus we have splendid acting.
Most of all, we have terrific aerial photography. Watching the ancient single and double wing seaplanes fly against the beautiful Canadian lakes and streams is a real treat. Plus if you are an airplane fan — as I am — the parade of old aircraft displayed in full, gorgeous Technicolor is truly a luscious things to behold.
Yes, the special effects are dated but I’m a real fan of well done model work and this one really delivers; there are some key scenes done with models that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing. And you get to see dozens of North American Texans, Lockheed Hudsons, and Fairey Battles in glorious color.