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Dive Bomber

59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Visually exciting WWII drama about two naval officers who are trying to understand and prevent altitude sickness. The two men must get past their personal differences in order to conduct the experiments necessary to save lives.

Amazon.com

It's not the most he-manly endorsement imaginable, but Dive Bomber must be the prettiest aviation movie ever made. Errol Flynn, Fred MacMurray, and Ralph Bellamy top the cast, but the real star is Technicolor--in particular, a special Monopack developed to take the color process airborne without the cumbrous three-strip cameras used in the studios. Bert Glennon and Winton C. Hoch (once and future cameramen to John Ford) were Oscar-nominated for best color cinematography of 1941, but the flying footage was shot by Howard Hawks's aerial go-to guy Elmer Dyer (The Dawn Patrol, Only Angels Have Wings, Air Force) and Charles Marshall. For his part, director Michael Curtiz set up as many dialogue scenes as possible to include low-level flyovers by U.S. Navy Air Force squadrons. The onscreen results are often breathtaking (and beautifully served by the DVD mastering).

The drama is something else again. Dive Bomber is a bridge between the carefree service comedy-dramas of the '30s and the combat-themed movies that would kick in following December 7, 1941. Warner Bros. knew war was coming (their 1940 Flynn swashbuckler The Sea Hawk had allegorically engaged Hitler!); the heroes here are the flight surgeons and test pilots racing to lick high-altitude sickness so that U.S. flyers would be able to get the drop on their Axis foes once "the main event" started. The best scenes are the lab tests, including an oxygen-deprivation experiment that makes striking use of Technicolor. But the script by aviation-ace-turned-screenwriter Frank "Spig" Wead alternates between two tiresome strategies: nonstop dissing of medicos Flynn and Bellamy by macho flyboys MacMurray and pal Regis Toomey, and low-comedy interludes deploring how exasperating women can be (Alexis Smith is a sacrificial victim in her stellar debut). In this last connection, John Ford's Wead biopic The Wings of Eagles would make an illuminating companion piece for Dive Bomber. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

  • New featurette: "Dive Bomber: Keep 'Em in the Air"
  • Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Errol Flynn, Fred MacMurray, Ralph Bellamy, Alexis Smith, Robert Armstrong
  • Directors: Michael Curtiz
  • Writers: Frank Wead, Robert Buckner
  • Producers: Hal B. Wallis, Robert Lord
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, NTSC, Full Screen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 27, 2007
  • Run Time: 132 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000M2E30Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,747 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dive Bomber" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By P. Welsh on May 7, 2006
Format: DVD
This is one of the greatest war films, sorry no blood and guts on the screen no great explosions. So how can it be five star? The stars are the planes, though the storyline is not bad. the footage of the prewar (USA) planes is top shelf. Turner or AMC run this every now and then stay home from work to see it. Released less then four months before the attack on Pearl Harbor it studies avi/med. Why no US DVD hey I'll buy two, OK three OK,OK five (widecreen) and a little sound work on the engines but didn't touch the color. This flim is to it's time what Tom Hanks did for the Apollo space program in 'From the Earth to the Moon', but not as large is Mr.Hanks' work.

This is a national treasure.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By m.v. agrippa on August 26, 2006
Format: DVD
If this were a documentary it would deserve a 5. Not only are the (barely) pre-War airplanes the stars of the show, but the gorgeous color photography of the San Diego area in '40-'41 is well worth the price of the DVD. But... it's supposed to be a movie, with characters, plot and all that good stuff, and this one doesn't rise much above the soap opera level on that score. Even at the documentary level there were some rather heavy duty security restrictions in place - one is free to doubt that, contrary to what the characters say, dive attacks were being made from 50,000 feet! Still, watching all those Vindicator dive bombers and pilots, knowing the sad fate which lay in store for these very people at Midway a little over a year later, makes it a very special memorial.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "scotsladdie" on February 4, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
DIVE BOMBER is one of the many films of the early forties which glorified the service branches: here we have Technicolor, big-budget treatment - and the full cooperation of the Naval Air Corps. This movie constantly waivers. There was an interesting, rather detailed examination of the new techniques in estimating a flyer's fitness, in solving the problems of "blacking out" when a pilot pulls out of a power dive, and in overcoming the hazards of stratospheric flying. Truly breathtaking formation flying, enhanced furthur by smogless Technicolor, was used in abundance. This dramatic and topical material was contrasted with flat story development in combination with artless "romantic interest". A good deal of the film was photographed at the Naval Air Station in San Diego and in the air amid billowing California clouds. Additonal material was filmed at Pensacola Naval Air Station and aboard the aircraft carrier ENTERPRISE.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Warren G Via , Jr. on June 24, 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
The story is typical pre second World War let's show off the Navy. The greatness is in the photogrophy. If you want to see what San Diego and Naval Air Station North Island looked like prior to the war, this is your picture.The aerial photography is beautiful, especially a shot of the Hotel Del Coronado circa 1940. When I see this film my thoughts seem to dweal on the Navy people who appear as extras in this film. How many went on to serve and give up their lives in the coming years? We where flying biplanes and Japan and Germany were flying ME 109's and Zero's.
Errol Flynn looks young, fit, and very much the Naval Officer. The script was written by Frank Wead (Wead's life was the subject of John Ford's Wings of Eagles)and depicts a very macho image of Naval Aviators. These were the Top Guns before there were Top Guns. So see the film for a great looking Flynn, the pre-War Navy at it's best and a slice of a California and America in a much more simple time. The war was right around the corner and The United States would never be the same.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul Baker on November 22, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This part of aviation history directed by Mitchel Curtiz, is a must for the mid-thirties aviation buff. The airplanes and the formation flying over North Island Naval Air Station are a tribute to Naval Aviation, and will bring back many lost memories. Unfortunately, the serious nature of the story, high altitude flying problems, is overshadowed by the comedic design of the equipment being flight tested to solve the problem. Be that as it may, it is still a great movie. Fred McMurray, Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith (the love interest) and Ralph Bellamy give their usual great entertaining performances. To me it was a 133 minute movie that took an hour to watch.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By 50s sci-fi Fan on March 16, 2007
Format: DVD
I bought Dive Bomber for two reasons:
(1) Technicolor: brings history to life. Dive Bomber is well worth a look if only for the shots that chronicle a ship, the 1941 "Enterprise" (and her aeroplanes, of course) destined for the fiercest battles in the Pacific War. She was to become the most decorated U.S. navy ship of WWII.
(2)Michael Curtiz, that great if excentric journeyman director. Just as in the "Adventures of Robin Hood," or "Casablanca" Curtiz, shows his versatility in handling disparate subject material, by giving you a real sense of narrative mood.

Curtiz's spectacular color flying shots of planes; taking off from and landing on "Enterprise," flying in echelon, or peeling out in diving formations are all the more impressive when remembering the burdensome nature of three strip technicolor cameras. He even uses formations of planes as cinematic "depth cues" in his ground action shots by having them fly towards the camera from the horizon.

Since Dive Bomber was made at a time when Americans sensed that they would soon be drawn into the world war. Historical timing allows Dive Bomber to concentrate on the patriotic positives and avoid the rallying anti-Japanese and German propaganda/melodrama requisite to the war films it preceeded.The action took a kind of anticipatory documentary form, stressing the dedication and courage of Navy fighting men ready to meet an expected if not 'real and present danger'.

The Documentrary form was most conspicuous in scences of laboratory research tests on high altitude sickness and G-forces associated with planes becoming sophisticated enough to make these conditions problematic.
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