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Lafayette Escadrille

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The brave Americans who flew for France before the U.S. entered World War I are saluted in Lafayette Escadrille, a rousing and flavorful adventure filled with flyboy camaraderie. '50s screen idol Tab Hunter stars as Thad Walker, a troubled youth who signs up with the elite corps. Love, however, throws a stumbling block in his path. He deserts to be with his sweetheart - but ultimately returns to dogfight glory. Besides a compelling look at the pilots' training, Lafayette Escadrille offers the fun of seeing actors whose careers had yet to soar to their full heights: movie superstar Clint Eastwood, Tom Laughlin (Billy Jack), David Janssen (The Fugitive) and Will Hutchins (Sugarfoot). Real-life Escadrille combat hero William A. Wellman (The Public Enemy, Battleground) provides the film's story and directs. It's a story close to Wellman's heart...and the last of the nearly 80 films in his renowned career.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Tab Hunter, Etchika Choureau, Bill Wellman, Jr., Jody Mccrea
  • Directors: William A. Wellman
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Archive
  • DVD Release Date: December 13, 2011
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00652FG24
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,482 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2014
Starring a young Paul Newman and, in his first major role, Clint Eastwood, director William Wellman returned to the theme of his Oscar-winning Wings and his own experiences as an American pilot flying for the French in World War One with 1958's epic Lafayette Escadrille, a fitting swansong for one of the great directors of the golden age - or at least that's what SHOULD have happened. Instead Jack Warner balked at the budget, insisted on casting Tab Hunter instead of the lesser-known actors (Eastwood's role went to David Janssen, leaving him in a small bit part), added a happier ending and cut the film to ribbons in post-production before changing the title to Hell Bent for Glory, with the bitterly disillusioned director never making another film. The scars are all too visible in the rushed pacing and jarring plotholes left by scenes that never made it to the final cut, the opening of the film in particular looking like someone attempted to crudely shoehorn 20 minutes of plot development from an already badly compromised script into five minutes of surviving footage that looks like it's been edited with a lawnmower.

Some moments do survive, but they're few and far between. The heroes' first night in their barracks moves from a flat comic scene to a quietly mournful one where Wellman's own narration identifies of the real-life pilots sleeping alongside them by name and describes their impending deaths, and its here that you see the kind of no-nonsense tribute to the friends he left behind that he so clearly wanted to make.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William Dakota on October 28, 2012
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Yes, it is about time this got on DVD. It isn't in color but the transfer is very clear and widescreen. Tab was dating his co-star Etchika Choureau when this was being filmed. A true story about American flyers who flew in France and fought the Germans and many died for France. It shows the monument created in Paris that is dedicated to those who fought and died for France.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JB on January 23, 2014
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This movie was made by Bill Wellman (WINGS) as his swan-song for Jack Warner and WARNER BROS Pictures. It starred Tab Hunter as probably the third movie he made as 'contract-player' for WARNER BROS, who Wellman cast after Hunter had made "Track of the Cat" (1955). It was based on Wellman's own experiences as an American, who volunteered to go to FRANCE, to fight as a 'pilot' in the 'first' World War I.
The biplanes used in the training sequences are really remarkable in their simple construction; followed by more sophisticated planes for the fight sequences. They make you feel for the American boys flying those planes at that time. Hunter's fellow cast members are interesting to see as they all emerged as successful actors in the following years. (see if you can recognize them! in the back-grounds.)
Tab Hunter wrote a biography (published 2005) that goes into the making of the movie in which he described the original ending having Hunter shot down to crash on French soil, while his French 'girl-friend' jumps off a bridge to end her life, in ending the movie. Finishing the movie, everyone went their own way, only to be called back together again after several months to reshoot the ending. Jack Warner wanted a "Happy-Ending"! So Warner had to rent Paramount's French back-lot for Hunter and his mistress to run into each other's arms for . . . F A D E - O U T ! THE END!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Hunyady on December 16, 2012
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This film is a peculiarly interesting high point to William Wellman's efforts involving airplanes. I've seen many of them and regard the collection as a history of aviation. His love and respect for his own heroes is shown by his son's portrayal of himself as 'just one of the other' warriors. We would all be better by regarding and remembering our own heroes--and ourselves-- similarly.
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Set during WWI, LAFAYETTE ESCADRILLE has an almost angelic and spiritual look about it. Tab Hunter gives one of his best performances as Thad Walker. Director William "Wild Bill" Wellman a veteran World War I flyer turns in a monumentally exciting and emotionally charged adventure. This was director William A. Wellman last film. The cinematography by William H. Clothier is breathtaking. These young American men fly for France before the US entered the war and the outlook is at times ominous. On and off the field of battle, director William "Wild Bill" Wellman delivers a calming tale giving one the impression that faith and the best qualities of man will persevere. This is classic filmmaking.

Etchika Choureau is the love interest. The film also features David Janssen, Will Hutchins, Brett Halsey, Tom Laughlin, Paul Fix and Clint Eastwood. The score was composed by Leonard Rosenman. LAFAYETTE ESCADRILLE compared to William "Wild Bill" Wellman's other films may seem a bit superficial working from Albert Sidney Fleischman's screenplay. Wellman, Clothier and Rosenman do make up for a lot of this. William Clothier's aerial sequences were excellent. The viewer really had to juxtapose the thrill of those sequences against bland dialogue and an unimaginative love story. But as someone once said, living is racing (flying this case) and everything is waiting. If you can grasp that, you can see the greatness in LAFAYETTE ESCADRILLE.
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