A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)

Not Rated   |    |  Action, Adventure, Drama


A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941) Poster

An American pilot impulsively joins His Majesty's Royal Air Force in Britain in an attempt to impress his ex-girlfriend.


6.5/10
1,130

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  • Tyrone Power and Betty Grable in A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)
  • A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)
  • Betty Grable and John Sutton in A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)
  • Tyrone Power and Betty Grable in A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)
  • John Sutton in A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)
  • Tyrone Power in A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)

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14 June 2012 | secondtake
7
| How the U.S. helped fight the Nazis before Pearl Harbor? Sort of! A warm pre-war war film
A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)

This is pretty thin going stuff, and yet it's fun and warm-hearted and tinged with the drama of the times.

Context is everything here. 1941. The war is raging in Europe and Britain is being bombed by the Germans and they are trying to build up their forces to resist what seems to be an unstoppable foe. The U.S. is not yet in the war (that would happen in six months, but the movie makers couldn't know that for sure). All the U.S. is doing is supplying their future allies, Canada and Great Britain.

But in the air here at home (I write this from New York) was a sense of inevitability--we would eventually be drawn in to fight. This movie is part of the gearing up for that fact.

The lead is an American paradigm, Tyrone Power playing a cocky, charming, good-natured, and well-meaning young man who happens to be a pilot. What happens to him is what was happening to the country as a whole. And it boils down to this: he starts with innocence and selfishness and gets involved in stages, helping sell planes, helping fly planes, then actually doing battle runs over enemy territory.

That gives nothing away--it's the title of the movie.

What pulls him along? First just making some money. But then he meets an old flame played by Betty Grable (the number one pin-up girl for U.S. soldiers once they get involved) and Grable represents the U.S., too, because she's already in Britain helping the cause. Love ensues, but the problem is a handsome British soldier who begins to steal Grable's heart. A love triangle.

And because this is practically al propaganda film (not officially of course) you know that it will leave the audience (us) with the proper message of about doing the right thing and supporting the cause against the Nazi regime. There is even the shocking if not surprising current event built into the movie of the Germans vowing not to invade certain lowland countries and then, of course, invading them anyway.

Is this a great movie? Not by any means. But it's very well paced and the characters are warm and well-drawn, at least for such a "tale" as this. I wouldn't watch it a second time, but I'm glad I did this first one. And if you are the least bit interested in how Hollywood primed America for the war this slight film (along with "Casablanca" and many other movies) is a must-see.

And for those who care, the airplane scenes were done with the really R.A.F. (and a different film crew than the rest of it). The director (except for those scenes) is Henry King, who got his pilot's license in 1918, and who lived so long that in his last years he was the oldest active pilot in the U.S. I'm sure he gave some authenticity to the film at least in spirit.

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Genres

Action | Adventure | Drama | Romance | War

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