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189 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a former military aircraft crewmember
I have to be different from most of the other reviewers and give this movie a full 5 stars. It is one of my favorites. As a former hookup man, crew chief, flight engineer, and door gunner, I have seen exactly the type of character assortment and wacky actions that this film portrays. There is always one that is afraid of dying. There is always AT LEAST one hung over...
Published on July 21, 2003 by Nosferatu

versus
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twelve O'Clock Medium...
If you can penetrate (like a B-17 cutting through cloud cover) all the character cliches and a certain old-fashioned hokey aura, you'll find a harrowing depiction of daylight bombing, circa 1943. What you won't find is an accurate account of the real Memphis Belle's 25th mission, or anyone resembling the actual men who flew her that day.

Matthew Modine captains...
Published on March 1, 2002 by Joel R. Bryan


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189 of 191 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From a former military aircraft crewmember, July 21, 2003
By 
Nosferatu (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Memphis Belle [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I have to be different from most of the other reviewers and give this movie a full 5 stars. It is one of my favorites. As a former hookup man, crew chief, flight engineer, and door gunner, I have seen exactly the type of character assortment and wacky actions that this film portrays. There is always one that is afraid of dying. There is always AT LEAST one hung over person, usually with a barf bag within reach. There is always the one that tries to ride herd on the rest and keep them paying attention to their job. There is always one glory hound that feels he must get a shot at everybody's job so he has bragging rights when he gets home. So this set of characters is totally credible and all were played with extraordinary skill. I love them all, even the jerk.
As for historical accuracy, it is not accurate. They based the story on the Memphis Belle, but incorporated all the incidents and accidents that happened to the flying fortresses. If it didn't happen to the Belle, her crew witnessed it. In my opinion, the movie is made better for this. It also serves to educate people about the realities of WWII bomber flights. I'm all for that. The public needs to be made aware that these men went through a hell that most cannot begin to imagine. Thus, this movie performs a vital function.
As for the entertainment value ... it is top of the line. You will feel the pain and dodge the shrapnel! The anti-aircraft rounds make me get in fast motion! I especially like the part about the monkey harness and can identify fully with it. The pilot always had to force me to put mine on, and like the guy in this movie, it saved my bacon once. There's just no comparison to flapping in the breeze beneath an aircraft while other crewmembers try to haul you back aboard. (But you'll never have to be told to put on your monkey harness again!) Thus, I identify and empathize with his position ... literally!
Order a copy today and see if it doesn't fully engage all your systems!
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67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Depiction of Allied Daylight Bombing Over Germany!, July 9, 2000
By 
Barron Laycock "Labradorman" (Temple, New Hampshire United States) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Memphis Belle (Snap Case) (DVD)
I watched this great movie with wonder at all the restored vintage B-17 bombers used in the filming. When one watches as they take off and land with such dangerous imprecision, it's remarkable to realize how far we've come technologically since those dangerous days of daylight bombing by the Americans (the Brits went at night) and the murderous losses over German skies. All of this as depicted was before we developed the P-51 with its much longer range and its ability to escort the bombers to the target area to fend off Luftwaffe fighters who shot down so many bombers in 1942, 1943, and 1944.
This is a wonderful movie, very accurate, authentic, and quite appealing. Starring Matthew Modine as the Pilot of the fabled "Memphis Belle", the first bomber crew to accomplish its mission tour and be returned to the states (to sell war bonds, among other things), is retells the amazing story of how thousands of kids as depicted here went off to England to fly thousands and thousands of planes through the perilous skies of Europe in a sustained effort to bomb the Third Reich into submission. Off they went, seeking the industrial and urban targets, knowing full well they might as well have had `bullseyes' painted on their fuselages. The costs of flying the missions in terms of lost people and planes were almost overwhelming to the Allies.
The story is told in all its fullness, and one comes to recognize just how many of these plucky kids leaving the air field would never come back, as the daily losses to German fighters, flak and mishap were atrocious. Yet they went up again the next day and the next and the next, in a dazzling display of uncommon courage, tenacity, and maturity beyond their tender years. This is a poignant and well-told, scripted and acted story brilliantly photographed on location over the hills and dales of bonny olde England, where it all unfolded in its grand yet grisly magnificence fifty some years ago. Watch and remember
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Hollywood Introduction to Vital American History, December 30, 2001
By 
Rob Morris (Idaho Falls, ID United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Memphis Belle [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A little background. First of all, there really was a plane called the Memphis Belle. It is traditionally considered the first B-17 to complete the obligatory 25 missions and survive. If you are going to learn about the real 'Memphis Belle', I highly recommend you watch the William Wyler documentary, made during World War II, that chronicles the story of the actual plane and its crew. You may also want to read the book that came out in the past year called "The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle" about the Belle's pilot, Robert Morgan, because it is a fascinating book about a man who went on to fly B29's in the Pacific after surviving in Europe. And to watch a movie that accurately chronicles the trials and tribulations of bomber crewmen in Europe in WWII, I recommend "Twelve O'Clock High" and "Pistol Packing Mama".
That having been said, I must add that most air veterans think that the 1990 "Memphis Belle" movie is unrealistic, and in many ways they are right. However, I have done enough research to appreciate that the film is a great way to get introduced to the exploits of the brave aircrews who flew over Germany in World War II. It is an entertaining film. I think the director would have been much better off NOT calling the film "The Memphis Belle", because the story is mostly fiction. So why did he/she do so? It was put out by the daughter of William Wyler, who made the original movie, in part as a tribute to her father. Thus the name.
The actual pilot of the real Memphis Belle was asked about the movie, and said that it appeared to him that the writers had taken everything that had happened to the crew over all 25 missions and compressed them into one hellish mission. Indeed, the crew deals with about every in-flight emergency imaginable on mission twenty-five. This is one exciting piece of film.
Roger Freeman, one of the great air historians, also served as an advisor on the film. The film got a lot of things right, too, in addition to the gaffes that many air vets notice.
The joy of seeing three of the surviving B-17's flying together again in this movie is worth the price, in my book.
I recommend the movie with the caveat that it is not FACT, but historical fiction, and recommend that if you like it, that you not stop until you see the real "Memphis Belle" video from the forties and also read Robert Morgan's book. You will come away with renewed and increased admiration for the brave men who flew missions in the war to save the world. These men flew knowing full well that each mission could well be their last. They flew no fewer than 25 such missions at war's beginning when the odds were terrible, and as many as 35 by war's end. This movie is a fitting tribute to their sacrifices.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best film on Air Warfare, November 11, 2005
This review is from: Memphis Belle (Snap Case) (DVD)
I saw this film several years ago, when it was initially released. I liked

it very much, and was very touching for me, because of the human feelings

it was able to show. I have always thought of this film as the perfect Air

War counterpart to that marvelous Submarine War film "Das Boot". In both

films you can feel the human suffering of human beings in terrible war conditions.

There are many excellent war movies, but regarding Air Force fighters, this

one is undoubtedly, at least for me, the best one.

One more point which was very touching for me is the last bombing target:

the seaport of Bremen. My great grandfather was born in Bremen, and I know

the city quite well. I can notice within the Old City any place where a

bomb fell. Nonetheless, it is not my point. It was wartime, and we must

understand it. But near the end of the film, the crew decided not to launch

some bombs, because there were clouds, and if they failed, intead of destroying

a factory they might have destroyed a nearby school, killing innocent children.

The crew took the risk to turn once again around the objective, to launch

the bombs exactly on the correct target, with all the danger envolved for

them. It was a moment of great emotion for me.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twelve O'Clock Medium..., March 1, 2002
By 
Joel R. Bryan (Athens, Georgia United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Memphis Belle (Snap Case) (DVD)
If you can penetrate (like a B-17 cutting through cloud cover) all the character cliches and a certain old-fashioned hokey aura, you'll find a harrowing depiction of daylight bombing, circa 1943. What you won't find is an accurate account of the real Memphis Belle's 25th mission, or anyone resembling the actual men who flew her that day.

Matthew Modine captains this fictionalized crew, with support from resentful co-pilot Tate Donovan, dishonest bombadier Billy Zane, panicked navigator D.B. Sweeney and wiseacre belly gunner Sean Astin. Tailgunner Harry Connick, Jr. gets to display his vocals and piano skills in a musical number, dedicated to waistgunner Eric Stoltz, that stalls the film in the early going.

While the real Memphis Belle experienced a somewhat less dramatic run to a different target, this film's mission is to depict the aerial terrors of that year in Europe, when American airmen suffered more losses than any other branch of our armed forces. Direct hit! Massive B-17 formations thunder across the sky, flak rips planes apart, and in one chilling moment, an enemy fighter slices one bomber in half, and our heroes hear the panicked screams of its doomed crew over the radio.

The battle scenes are horrific, and the character scenes are just horrible. It's not that the acting is of poor quality; it isn't. It's that each crewmember faces some sort of hackneyed personal crisis and comes through in true cliched fashion, which somewhat cheapens what the real crew experienced. It's literally one thing after another, a bombing run as group therapy. The film relies exclusively on stock Hollywood types, rather than human beings. Plus, Sweeney's fearful character does a disservice to the real Belle's navigator. Modine comes off best, with his youthful appearance and dedication, as he admonishes his crew not to shout their targets over the intercom. John Lithgow has the thankless task of portraying the coldblooded PR officer who's more concerned with publicity tours than the men's welfare, or their mission's stategic/tactical importance.

Despite its failings as a "true" story, this is a film worth watching. Not until "Saving Private Ryan" would a film surpass "Belle's" depiction of nerve-wracking combat.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fanciful account of the final mission of the famous "Memphis Belle", December 7, 2005
By 
This review is from: Memphis Belle (Snap Case) (DVD)
My first favorite television series was "Twelve O'Clock High" and I had at least two models of the "Memphis Belle" when I was kid, all of which simply reflects the fact that the B-17 Flying Fortress is my favorite airplane. When I was a kid my family was driving through California and there was a B-17 parked out on somebody's front lawn on a ranch and for years I tried to figure out how to go back and see it. A couple of decades later one of the few B-17s still flying came to the Zenith City and I finally got to go inside one (this big bombers are a lot smaller than I ever thought). For all I know that particular B-17 ended up flying in the 1990 film "Memphis Belle." When I had occasion to drive through the city of Memphis, of course I made a point of visiting Mud Island where the "Memphis Belle" was on display (she was moved to the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio this October).

The "Memphis Belle" (Serial No. 41-24485) was one of 12,750 B-17 Flying Fortresses built by the Boeing Aircraft Company, but it was the most famous because it was the first heavy bomber to complete 25 combat missions over Hitler's Europe without losing a crew member. The idea of 25 missions and going home was established by the bomber command as an incentive for air crews because morale was desperately low after the first three months of American combat flights over Europe during which eighty percent of the planes were shot down. The "Belle" flew from November 7, 1942 to May 17, 1943 and its final flight is the fanciful subject of this film directed by Michael Caton-Jones ("Scandal") from the script by Monte Merrick ("Staying Together").

That simply means that besides the fact that the "Memphis Belle" was named for a lady friend (Margaret Polk) of the pilot and that the art on the nose depicting the same (designed by the famous artist George Petty) there is nothing here that is historically accurate when it comes to that final mission, which was over Lorient, France and not Bremen, Germany (the "Belle" flew there on its 21st mission). The names of the crew are all changed and I think the same applies to the plane's mascot, a Scotty Dog named "Stuka." So if you want something closer to the "true" story of the pilot Robert Morgan and the "Memphis Belle" you want to check out William Wyler's 1944 documentary "The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress."

What you have here instead is a Hollywood movie that celebrates the men who flew these bombers in World War II by incorporating a wide variety of clichés from war movies involving airplanes. Then there is the whole idea that Americans from all walks of life who have little in common besides a desire to get home alive band together to fight the Nazis. So it is we have the young and recognizable faces of Matthew Modine as the business like pilot, Eric Stoltz as the poetic radio operator, Tate Donovan as the co-pilot who wants to actually do something before he goes home, D.B. Sweeney as the navigator who is convinced his number is up, Billy Zane as the bombardier who left medical school to fight, Sean Austin as the runt who is stuck in the ball turret, Reed Edward Diamond as the flight engineer, Courtney Gains and Neil Giuntoli as the bickering waist gunners, and Harry Connick as tail gunner and sometime crooner.

Back at the base David Strathairn plays the commanding officer nervous about his boys getting back alive and John Lithgow is the public relations officer the Army has sent to celebrate the final mission of the "Belle." Of course, it is hard to create tension given that most viewers know the "Memphis Belle" is remembered for completing that final mission, so any tension that is created tends to be somewhat artificial although there are some nice moments during the bomb run (the film might play better if it simply inspired by the "Belle" and they changed the name of the aircraft as well) . But even if the "Belle" survives there are other several B-17 crews on the mission who will not. Still, the idea that doing your duty could not just be dangerous but be outright suicidal is communicated, allowing Modine's character to explain the job to his nervous crew and underscore that Americans do not believe in collateral damage. But what will probably stand out in this film is the grim lesson that Donovan's character learns when he tries to be a hero by doing somebody else's job.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth in Propaganda, May 4, 2005
This review is from: Memphis Belle (Snap Case) (DVD)
It is said that this moview incorporates all of the shameless propaganda that ever went into a flyboy movie. Maybe so. So what? It is a good one and all the better for being THE WAY IT WAS.

My uncle fought on these beasts. He said they got this one right and I am inclined to believe him. I also look at him with awe when I think about it.

One of my lasting impressions is how young the aircrews were. That is much different that my military experience but that too is the way it was at that time.

The story is of a bomber crew that has to make one more mission before they get rotated back home. They were expecting a milk run and got a horror mission instead. This is the story of how they got through it and the things that happened to them on the way there and back again.

It brings to life the multiplicity of different type people who made up the crews. They came from different backgrounds and places. They get hacked off with each other. They also pull together when the time comes for them to do so.

Forget the cliches. Get this one to remind you about the Greatest Generation!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much effort in digital transfer, August 26, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Memphis Belle (Snap Case) (DVD)
The movie itself is a good film. The transfer of the material to DVD is below average. The video is good in most areas, but some scenes show "film spots" from a worn print of the film. The sound track is not one to show off your new dolby digital sound system with. The sound is muddy through most of the film. With all the potential a title like this one had to be a showcase for home theater, the studios really dropped the ball on this one, just pushing media out the door to boost the DVD title list. END
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cub Scouts on first camping trip, May 19, 2011
This review is from: Memphis Belle (Snap Case) (DVD)
As several have written, the story is a composite of things that happened, not the actual story of the Memphis Belle. Given that, it was enjoyable to watch many of the scenes of the aircraft in flight. As far as the crew, every cliche ever imagined was pulled into play, and the crew didn't behave as if they had 24 missions under their belts - more like it was the very first mission for an untrained crew. Childish interaction, continual chatter even after the captain instructed them to keep the intercom clear. Maybe forgiveable in the heat of the mission, but my experience as a Huey Aircraft Commander in Vietnam tells me that when the chips are down, even a squirrelly crew member focuses on the job at hand, not schoolboy bickering. And, although perhaps needed for the benefit of the audience's understanding, it strained credibility for the captain to instruct the crew on the minutiae of things they need to remember. After 24 missions, I would think they could finish each others' sentences. Poor screenplay, poor direction, fun to watch the big bombers in action.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, But Some Inaccuracies, September 25, 2005
By 
This review is from: Memphis Belle (Snap Case) (DVD)
As war flicks go, this one was pretty decent; no overdramatic, sappy acting, the cast playing the Belle's crew was pretty cohesive, just like you would expect.

For the most part, the film was reasonably realistic (I've known lots of B-17 and B-24 pilots). It impressed me that they even got the Belle's model (B-17F) right; I didn't know there were any flying F's still around, most are G-models.

There were some inaccuracies though. Why did they glamorize the Belle's name on the nose, when it actually was made up of plain block letters? The "little friends" (fighter escort) would not be made up of P-51's in early 1943, more than likely P-47s; I can forgive this one because there are only a couple of flyable "Jugs" left. The Belle's 25th mission was actually a "milk run" over France; they did fly once over Bremen but I believe that was around their 20th mission. Smoking was not allowed on, or anywhere near, the bombers. I could list several other things, but you get my point.

Still, it was one of the better bomber movies in many ways. I would have to agree with another reviewer though about "Twelve O'Clock High". It doesn't have as much action as this movie, but is totally accurate and much more dramatic.
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Memphis Belle [Blu-ray]
Memphis Belle [Blu-ray] by Michael Caton-jones (Blu-ray - 2014)
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