Combat America (1943)
with Clarke Gable
A documentary recounting the experiences of the 351st Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Force. A World War II documentary film made for Stateside audiences about life in the Mighty Eighth Air Force in England and in the deadly skies over Europe. Narrated by Clark Gable, who actually flew around five missions in B-17's before heading off to safer locales, the film follows the daily lives of the men of the 351st Bomb Group based in England and follows the men into the air. It has some excellent--if jerky-- footage of air combat. Another big plus about this film is that it is in color, which wasn't used much in the war. Though the spoken sequences come across as staged and corny, it is important to remember that the only real actor in the film is Gable. It is also a good example of World War II, rally-around-the-flag wartime propaganda, though it is honest enough to show planes full of American boys falling from the sky. For anyone interested in the air war over Europe, B-17's, or films made to support the war effort, this is a worthwhile DVD. However, be advised that the quality of the picture is less than perfect, because it is taken from a forties-era movie.
"1st Lieutenant Clark Gable is hereby directed to proceed to England ... for making a combat film dealing particularly with the combat phases of aerial gunnery ... ".
Initial footage depicts aircraft flying over American mountains, with Gable narrating that this is what they are fighting for. Bob Hope also appears in the film, and the film mostly depicts 351st Bombardment Group life at RAF Polebrook. Combat footage begins three-quarters of the way into the movie and includes take off and return of aircraft. The film depicts a wall poster with target names and, for confirmed kills, swastika stickers. Footage at the end of the film includes a B-17 in an uncontrolled dive with a portion of the horizontal stabilizer missing and shoot-down of Messerschmitt Bf 109s. Intercut with the combat footage is close-up footage of machine gun firing from a B-17 waist gun port. Gable flew 5 WWII combat missions from May 4-September 23, and during one of them, his shoe was struck by an anti-aircraft shell. Gable's film crew included MGM cameraman Andrew J McIntyre; "1st Lt. Howard Voss, a sound engineer; Master Sgt. Robert Boles, a cameraman; Master Sgt. Marlin Toti, an other[sic] cameraman; and 1st Lt. John Mahlin, a scriptwriter." The program runs 62 minutes.
Source: Amazon.com & Wikipedia