Wednesday, July 02, 2014


In June of 1944, the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division are stationed in England, anxious to be part of the Allied invasion of France. Newcomer Tom Tryon is cocky and egotistical (and, as we discover, had a rough childhood and is still recovering from a Dear John letter), so he has a little problem fitting in, though his Southern buddy (Martin Milner) keeps trying to intervene for him. The lieutenant in charge (Jan Merlin) also steps in to smooth things over, and when D-Day comes, the group is more tightly bonded. Once they've parachuted into France, they separate into smaller groups to carry out sabotage missions. During a run-in with Germans, Merlin is blinded and Tryon has to help lead him along with them until they get to a nearby village. Once there, with the help of a young French woman (Jacqueline Beer) and a captured German radio operator, they pull a scam on the invading Germans and Tryon becomes a hero. This is a routine war melodrama in which a rough-edged loner learns a lesson about teamwork. On that level, it's fine, but I think the title is misleading. It promises action in the skies, and there is none of that at all—they're only in the air long enough to get from England to France. Tryon makes for a decent sullen lead, and Milner (pictured above sitting with Tryon) is good in support, as are most of the other actors, including Alvy Moore (Hank Kimball in Green Acres), Mark Damon, Paul Burke, and Edward G. Robinson Jr. Tryon's plotline is ignored for a long stretch in the middle, which allows more focus on the action. Nothing special, but not a chore to sit through either. My favorite line, spoken by Tryon to the philosophical Merlin: "Are you just gonna sit there and talk about life and stuff?" [TCM]

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