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(Review originally written at 23 May 2007)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a rather enjoyable WW II about the Doolittle-raid on Japan, made during WW II itself, that however is given more credit for than it really deserves.

Just like basically with every '40's movie is the case, the first halve is formulaic and drags on for too long. The second halve is far more powerful, original and gripping, although in this case the movie also starts to drag again toward the ending, when the movie starts to go on for far too long. The movie easily could had been 45 minutes shorter by cutting some from its beginning and let the movie end way earlier, after they crashed down in China. The movie of course also has a love-story in it to add to the drama. It's typical and formulaic but lovers of '40's movies shall probably not complain about it.

The build up of the movie just takes too long. It provides the movie with some good and likable characters but however those get hardly featured again in the second halve of the movie. Basically the only truly real successful part of the movie was the raid itself. It had a good build up and was shot well, with the help of some tremendously good looking miniatures. In this part only the tension and action works out well and the movie starts to grab you and becomes emotionally effective. All of the other moments in the movie around that are well made but just nothing original, gripping or dramatically effective. It's just too average all. So that's also why I can't really consider this movie as a truly great genre movie.

The movie is made during WW II, so it obviously has propaganda elements in it. It however isn't anything too disturbing but nevertheless it's a big laughable because it's so obvious. Such as when the air force and marine's constantly say how much they respect and admire each other's work, or when the Americans start to say how much they admire the Chinese and that they would be honored to fit along their side against the Japanese.

It was WW II, so more than anything big Hollywood names were more than happy to be in a movie for the good cause. The movie features Van Johnson in the main lead and Spencer Tracy as general Doolittle. and Robert Mitchum in small role. Too small because he probably is the best actor of the bunch. But nevertheless, Van Johnson really wasn't a bad pick as the main lead of the movie.

A good movie but I guess it's more fun and powerful to watch when you're an American yourself.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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