26 October 2011 | MartinHafer
You could do better than this...
ugly film--lots of degraded/fuzzy actual color stock footage. dropping torpedo?! Coursairs becoming Hellcats Hayden a bit one-dimensional and the men are rather mutinous! pretty much "Flying Leathernecks" Jack Larson
"Flat Top" is from a genre that few have heard of--crappy war films that are made up of HUGE chunks of stock footage. Rarely is the footage used well and in almost every case, the real footage is obvious because it's so grainy--and often a bit irrelevant. While I love a good airplane film, I hate most of these films because historical accuracy is unimportant--slapping together old clips into a semi-coherent movie to save a few bucks is all that matters. Can you tell that I was not a huge fan of this film?
As I said, the clips often are poorly done. In this film, it's better than many but as a guy who knows quite a bit about WWII aircraft, I was shocked to see what were supposed to be a Coursair fighter plane dropping a torpedo (this is like a guy giving birth--it just won't happen). Many times, instead of Coursairs, the film shows Hellcats--both excellent Navy fighter planes but they looked nothing alike. But when a Coursair suddenly becomes a Hellcat in mid-air (or vice-versa), it's just very sloppy. Also, and this is picky, I know, but they show post-WWII Coursairs as well (with the four screw propellers instead of three) as well as a Skyraider (DEFINITELY a post-WWII plane). And, as I pointed out above, the clips they used were in color but VERY fuzzy and often seemed like filler--and almost all the crashing into the deck shots have been used before repeatedly in other films!
As for the plot, it's VERY standard fare--and it pretty much "The Flying Leathernecks" and a bunch of other films all over again. You have a tough-as-nails commander (Sterling Hayden) and a second officer (Richard Carlson) who is more concerned about being pals with the men. Somehow these two completely incompatible approaches need to be reconciled. To make things worse, this isn't that interesting a film to plane and non-plane buffs.
Sloppy, derivative and not particularly good. Unless you are REALLY bored, you could do a lot better.