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  Memphis Belle (1990)
  Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide 1994: Memphis Belle
(1990, British) - 101min. - [PG-13] - **

Director: Michael Caton-Jones. Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Tate Donovan, D.B. Sweeney, Billy Zane, Sean Astin, harry Connick, Jr., Reed Edward Diamond, Courtney Gains, Neil Giuntoli, David Strathairn, John Lithgow, Jane Horrocks.

If you can make it through the first hour (a virtual catalogue of war movie cliches) this film ultimately provides an exciting fictional reenactment of the famous B-17's final bombing raid over Germany during WW2. Still, it's hard to believe that such a cornball script could be concocted in 1990. Coproduced by Catherine Wyler, whose father, William Wyler, made the 1944 documentary THE MEMPHIS BELLE.


The Internet Movie Database:Memphis Belle (1990)

A film review by Mark R. Leeper
Copyright 1990 Mark R. Leeper

Capsule review: Disappointing and undoubtedly fictionalized account of the twenty-fifth mission of the first B-17 crew to reach that number and be sent home. Eight real B-17s were used and they deserve billing above the likes of Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, and John Lithgow.
Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4).

Undeniably there is some truth to this story. The Memphis Belle really was the first B-17 Flying Fortress to complete twenty-five missions and hence win its flight crew an opportunity to go home and sit out the rest of the war in celebrity and with relatively cushy assignments. Hence there really was a twenty-fifth mission of the Memphis Belle. Whether the first twenty-four missions were as routine as suggested in the film and the twenty-fifth was as dangerous ... that I am somewhat skeptical about. I take most of the film with more than one grain of salt. The drama is pat; the characters are stereotypes. In fact, the script candidly tells you that the characters are going to be stereotypes. "There's always one guy who's very religious, always one guy from Cleveland," we are told in the first scene. So of course we have these cliched characters here. This is *not* TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH and it is not one of the great adventure films about World War II. It is, however, a very nice film to look at. The music and the decoration have a nice feel of 1943, even if one can argue that the party is a bit lavish for a humble air base. But the real visual splendor is in seeing genuine B-17s taking off and flying together. I think most people get some sort of a charge out of seeing airplanes flying and there is a lot of flying in this film.

Basically Memphis Belle details for the viewer several of the more common hazards of bombing runs over Germany. You see air battles; you see near-misses, light collisions, and heavy collisions. You see flying through a shower of flak. You see people getting shot up and mid-air surgery. Mostly you see a lot of scenes you have seen in other films. Yet somehow the film falls short of actually generating real excitement or tension. We know the Belle is going to get back and the characters are not real enough and certainly not endearing enough for us really to worry about their individual safety. The film has a few too many contrived touches even to have a feel of authenticity. It has fliers mistaking tomato soup for blood. It has a dog who recognizes the sound of his master's plane engines. Touches like these get in the way of the audience taking the story very seriously.

This is a pretty film to watch but both too shallow in its drama and too unexceptional in its action really to engage an audience. I give it a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale.

Mark R. Leeper
leeper@mtgzy.att.com

Genre(s): Drama war


Memphis Belle (1990)
UK 1990

Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo. 
Genre(s):  Drama  wwii  Action 
Certificate(s):  USA:PG-13 
Color. 


Directed by Michael Caton-Jones 



Cast in credits order.  Verified as complete


Matthew Modine ........Dennis
Eric Stoltz ...........Danny Daly
Tate Donovan ..........Luke
D.B. Sweeney ..........Phil Rosenthal
Billy Zane ............Val Kozlowski
Sean Astin ............Rascal
Harry Connick Jr. .....Clay
Reed Edward Diamond ...Virge
Courtney Gains ........Eugene
Neil Giuntoli .........Jack
David Strathairn ......Commanding Officer
John Lithgow ..........Col. Bruce Derringer
Jane Horrocks .........Faith
Mac MacDonald .........Leo
Jodie Wilson ..........Singer
Keith Edwards .........'5-2'
Steven Mackintosh .....Sean the Rookie
Greg Charles ..........Adjutant
Bradley Lavelle .......Sergeant
Ben Browder ...........Rookie Captain
Mitch Webb ............Group Navigator
Paul Birchard .........Lieutenant
Bill Cullum ...........Farmer
Eric Loren ............Cook
Cathy Murphy ..........Jitterbugger
Morag Silfer ..........Jitterbugger
Steve Elm .............Footballer
Jason Salkey ..........Footballer
Martin McDougal .......Footballer


remainder of cast listed in alphabetical order
Mat Macdonald .........Les
Morag Siller ..........Jitterbugger


Cinematography by: David Watkin 
Music by: George Fenton 
Written by: Monte Merrick 
Production designed by: Stuart Craig 
Costume design by: Jane Robinson 
Edited by: Jim Clark 
Produced by: David Puttnam and Catherine Wyler
 

Also
Chuck Finch (gaffer)
Tom Finch (best boy)

Also there was some 'chat' in the Usenet groups about the time the movie came out. You might find that some of it is informative...
Look in the Internet Movie Database if you'd like to know more about this movie or other movies.

Last updated June 8, 1995