Flying Tigers (1942)

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    Plot Summary
    Jim Gordon commands a unit of the famed Flying Tigers, the American Volunteer Group
    which fought the Japanese in China before America's entry into World War II.
    Gordon must send his outnumbered band of fighter pilots out against overwhelming odds
    while juggling the disparate personalities and problems of his fellow flyers. In particular,
    he must handle the difficulties created by a reckless hot-shot pilot named Woody Jason,
    who not only wants to fight a one-man war but to waltz off with Gordon's girlfriend.
    Summary written by Jim Beaver

    Full Cast
    John Wayne .... Capt. Jim Gordon
    John Carroll .... Woody Jason
    Anna Lee .... Brooke Elliott
    Paul Kelly .... Hap Smith (pilot)
    Gordon Jones .... Alabama Smith
    Mae Clarke .... Verna Bales
    Addison Richards .... Col. R.T. Lindsay
    Edmund MacDonald .... Blackie Bales (pilot)
    Bill Shirley .... Dale (pilot killed)
    Tom Neal .... Reardon (pilot)
    Malcolm 'Bud' McTaggart .... McCurdy (pilot)
    David Bruce .... Lt. Barton (pilot)
    Chester Gan .... Mike (mechanic)
    Jimmie Dodd .... 'Mac' McIntosh (pilot) (as James Dodd)
    Gregg Barton .... Tex Norton (pilot)
    John James .... Selby (pilot)
    Richard Crane .... Airfield radioman (uncredited)
    Elvira Curci .... Hindu woman (uncredited)
    Rico De Montez .... (uncredited)
    Eddie Dew .... Miller (injured pilot) (uncredited)
    Dan Dowling .... Pilot (uncredited)
    Willie Fung .... Jim 'Gin' Sling (waiter) (uncredited)
    Bill Hunter .... Mechanic (uncredited)
    Allen Jung .... Dr. Tsing's assistant (uncredited)
    Charles Lane .... Repkin (airport manager) (uncredited)
    Charles La Torre .... Armenian passenger (uncredited)
    Lotus Long .... Children's matron (uncredited)
    Richard Loo .... Dr. Tsing (uncredited)
    Dick Morris .... Pilot (uncredited)
    Nestor Paiva .... (uncredited)
    José Pérez .... Rangoon hotel clerk (uncredited)
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt .... Himself (voice) (uncredited) (archive footage)
    Tom Seidel .... Barratt (new pilot) (uncredited)
    Bhogwan Singh .... Hindu passenger (uncredited)
    Eleanor Soohoo .... Chinese stewardess (uncredited)
    Dave Willock .... Jim's Aide (uncredited)
    Victor Wong .... Chinese passenger (uncredited)

    Writing Credits
    Kenneth Gamet original story and screenplay
    Barry Trivers screenplay

    Original Music
    Victor Young

    Jack A. Marta (photography) (as Jack Marta)

    Paul Mantz .... stunt pilot (uncredited)

    Actual Flying Tigers Lawrence Moore and Kenneth Sanger were technical advisors.

    Some clips of the dogfights and Japanese ack-ack guns were from confiscated Japanese newsreels.

    No scene of the interior of the airplane could be shown for security reasons. The instrument boards shown were fake.

    This movie broke all boxoffice records for Republic Pictures by a large margin and was one of the top grossing movies of the year.

    The Flying Tigers' planes were full-size mock-ups made mostly of plywood and balsa wood, not - as has often been thought - real aircraft. The "engine" noises were sound effects added after production.

    The airplanes seen on the ground in the film are decommissioned P-40Bs, of the type actually used by the American Volunteer Group in China; they have four prominent gunports on the engine cowling (but no guns.) In the aerial sequences the planes are 1941 P-40E's, with six wing-mounted guns and a smooth cowling.

    Howard Lydecker and Theodore Lydecker, Republic Pictures' special effects wizards, shot all outdoor effects shots around Santa Fe, New Mexico, in order to take advantage of the impressive cloud formations.

    Theodore Lydecker claimed that no actual aircraft were used in this movie, with the effects being created by Republic Pictures' 15-man special effects department, headed by he and his brother Howard Lydecker.

    When John Carroll was introduced to a Tiger from Texas, he inquires, "Do you know the McNaught Sisters in Fort Worth?" This was an inside joke by screenwriter Barry Trivers. The McNaught Sisters - Mary, Ruth and Corinne - were actually from Fort Worth and were cousins of Florine McKinney, Trivers' former wife.

    In 1949, Republic Pictures reissued this film on a double bill with The Fighting Seabees (1944).

    The opening scene shows a Japanese air raid and in the aftermath a crying child is sitting alone amid debris. This scene virtually duplicates a famous photo taken in 1937 and published in Life magazine following a Japanese air raid on Shanghai. (Located in the National Archives, ARC Identifier: 535557)

    This film's opening prologue is a quote from Kai-Shek Chiang. It states: "Since the Flying Tigers first spread their wings in the skies above China, the enemy learned to fear the intrepid spirit they have displayed in face of his superior numbers. They have become the symbol of the invincible strength of the forces now upholding the cause of justice and humanity. The Chinese people will preserve forever the memory of their glorious achievements." Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek

    * Continuity: When the burning cargo plane is waved off at the Rangoon airport, it has only the right landing gear down. Moments later the pilots are shown raising the left landing gear.

    * Factual errors: One of the scenes of the "Japanese" anti-aircraft gunners firing actually shows Chinese Troops (recognizable due to their wearing German style helmets.)

    * Continuity: When Woody crashes the airplane he took up without permission we hear the engine running and see it running (you can't see the propeller) as it passes the camera several times on the way down, but just before he touches down in the crash the engine is not running and the propeller is clearly stopped.

    * Continuity: When Capt. Jim Gordon releases the three containers of nitroglycerin (over the bridge) he looks back into the cargo area of the plane and we see all three of them release simultaneously. Then we cut to the right side of the cargo plane and we see them drop through the bottom of the aircraft one after the other.

    * Continuity: Noticeable air scoops on the P-40's top cowling are shown in scenes of the aircraft parked on the ground and during taxi. Up-close engine starting and flying sequences show a clean cowling, without the air scoops.

    * Continuity: During the night fighting sequence, the aircraft shown passing in "vic" formation and later shown peeling off to the left are spitfires not P-40s.

    * Factual errors: The AVG did not engage in any combat prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Their first combat mission against the Japanese was December 20, 1941.

    * Continuity: When Woody takes off in the unarmed ship the rudder of his plane is shown being shot to pieces by a Japanese plane. In the rest of the sequence, the dive and the final landing, the rudder is undamaged.

    * Revealing mistakes: When Woody is taxiing the cargo plane and taking off down the runway, he keeps turning the control wheel left and right, as if he were driving a car. The first lesson of one's first flight is that one does not touch the wheel or stick while on the ground. The rudder, controlled by foot pedals, is used to steer the plane on the ground. Turning the wheel left and right would cause the wingtips to dig into the ground.

    * Factual errors: The calendar on the desk shows the date 7 Dec 1941. The Presidents speech to Congress took place on 8 Dec 1941. Also Burma/China is to to the west of the International Date Line, that would make the date in that part of the world 9 Dec 1941.

    Memorable Quotes

    Filming Locations
    Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Co., Buffalo, New York, USA
    (aircraft sequences)
    Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
    (action and plane footage)
    Russell Ranch - Triunfo Canyon Road, Thousand Oaks, California, USA
    Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 17 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Flying Tigers (a.k.a Yank Over Singapore and Yanks Over the Burma Road) is a 1942 black-and-white war film,
    starring John Wayne and John Carroll as pilots
    in the mercenary fighter group fighting the Japanese in China
    prior to the U.S. entry into World War II.

    In production before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
    Flying Tigers dramatized the exploits of Americans already fighting the enemy in the Pacific.
    It was unabashedly a propaganda film that was well received by a populace looking for a "flagwaver."


    I will never forget that immortal word, uttered by
    Duke's mechanic.

    I like this film, and enjoyed it.
    Duke, although not involved in the military, was
    proving behind doubt, that his films, were doing more
    for the war effort, than he could ever have done in the military.
    Duke was proving a natural leader of his men,
    and his character development,was certainly beginning to mature in this film.

    User Review

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 4 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Flying Tigers was a fun Duke film to watch and it showed early on that he was going to be a force when it came to military films. The script might be alitle weak, but the flying sequences were pretty decent for the era. I would recommend this film to any Duke fan, especially if you are a WW2 nut.

    Life is hard, its even harder when your stupid!!
    -John Wayne

  • Memorable Quotes

    Jim Gordon: I Hope you two had a good time, 'cause Hap paid the check.

    Woody Jason: [as he charges outside during an air raid] C'mon, everybody! The bank's open!
    Woody Jason: [minutes later, after he grabs an unarmed and radio-less fighter to join the battle...
    even after Jim has told him to wait until he gets combat training] Get your checkbook out, General.
    [He's about to shoot down some Japanese, or so he thinks]
    Woody Jason: [after getting winged by a Japanese bomber and making a forced landing, right into a tree] ...
    Well, I walked away from THAT one!
    Another Pilot: Yeah... A few more landings like THAT, and you'll be a Japanese ace!

    Jim Gordon: [after Woody joins a sortie against Jim's orders, in a fighter without ammo or a radio, and gets himself shot down]
    Where do you think you are, with some broken-down flying circus?
    Woody Jason: Aw, it would've been a cinch; I was ridin' the murder-spot right above those Jap bombers! If I had ammo,
    I'd have blown them clear out of China!
    Jim Gordon: Instead, you wasted a good ship!
    Woody Jason: Hey, you talk like that crate's more important than me.
    Jim Gordon: I can't afford to lose planes OR pilots...
    Woody Jason: It's like I told you earlier, Pappy: All I get out of this is the dough,
    so you can't blame me for trying. In a skeet match, the guy who knocks down the most pigeons wins the cup.
    Jim Gordon: ...I also can't have grand-standers trying to hog the whole show!
    Results around here are based on co-operation and understanding.
    Discipline in the air is strict, because that's the only way an outfit like this can operate!
    Woody Jason: ...And here I thought it was every man for himself.
    Jim Gordon: Not these days, it isn't. Just wait until the day you look over your shoulder and see a Jap sittin' on your tail,
    in a ship that you can't out-maneuver! THEN you'll know what I'm talking about.

    Woody Jason: [as he's examining his latest paycheck] How about that? I just qualified for an ace with one sortie!
    I wonder if anybody's ever beat that record.
    Another Pilot: I remember somebody who tied it once, only he didn't live to spend what he earned...
    So how does it feel to be a one-man team, Woody?

    Woody Jason: [after Blackie has been shot down and killed] ...
    C'mon, fellas, you can't pin this on me! If Blackie hadn't opened his chute so soon, it wouldn't have happened!
    Hap Smith: Maybe if you'd followed Blackie down, it wouldn't have happened, either!
    You were nearest to him, and you were in the clear. What happened?
    Woody Jason: ...A Mitsubishi got in my way.
    Hap Smith: [bitter] I guess it's easier to see $500 than a pal of yours in trouble, isn't it?

    Jim Gordon: [following Hap's medical examination] Come on in, Hap...
    I gotta hand you one on the chin, but I'd rather it came from me than from anybody else: You're through flying.
    Hap Smith: The doctor said I'd out-live Confucius.
    Jim Gordon: Sure, if you stay on the ground...
    I can't send a man out there who doesn't know whether he's flying upside down or not!
    Take a look at that eye chart; your depth perception's a mile off!
    I know you've been gunning 'em since they were box-kites with broomsticks for rudders.
    But you gotta believe me, I'm doin' this for you! You've been close-winging in formation, overshooting your landings...
    Hap Smith: [sounding as if he might cry] You don't have to say any more!...
    What else COULD I do around here?
    Jim Gordon: Well, taking care of these ships on the ground is just as important as gunning them upstairs.
    I need a man I can trust for that... I wish you'd take that job, Hap.

    [Woody has 'broken the camel's back', by getting Hap killed]
    Jim Gordon: There's an army truck out of here for Rangoon the day after tomorrow. Be on it.
    Woody Jason: Don't say that, Jim!
    Jim Gordon: Until then, you're confined to your quarters.
    Woody Jason: I'm still a good flier, Jim! I'll knock down five Japs for every one of our boys!
    Jim Gordon: It's out of my hands now. None of THESE men will ever fly with you again. And they HAVE to fly.

    [after the first sortie]
    Jim Gordon: A little rough in spots, Dale, but I think after you've learned a few things about... Dale?
    [finds him dead]
    Jim Gordon: ... Mike! Take care of Dale, would you? Thanks.

    Jim Gordon: Don't try to win this war all by yourself.

    Jim Gordon: [reading Woody's final letter] “Do me a favor, will you,
    Pappy? Give my leather jacket to Reardon, he's a cool character.
    Divide my address book evenly among the boys in the barracks.
    And give my silk scarf to the next hedge-hopper who thinks this is an easy racket we're in. Woody.”

    Woody's Friend: How come you guys wear laundry tickets on your jackets?
    'Mac' McIntosh: Oh, these aren't laundry tickets.
    This is in case you get shot down over Chinese territory, so they'll know you're an American volunteer.
    Woody's Friend: What if you're shot down over JAPANESE territory?
    'Mac' McIntosh: ...Then you've got nothing to worry about.

    Woody Jason: [doing magic tricks for the kids] I have here a shiny new quarter. Brand new. Just made it this morning.
    [sniffs it]
    Woody Jason: Brand new - you can still smell the mint!

    Repkin: Jason, what's your position?
    Woody Jason: My instruments tell me I'm flying upside-down 500 feet below lake Michigan,
    but they must be wrong, because I can see the lights of the field, run for cover, I'm commin' in!

    Woody Jason: [almost crashing into mountain] Pull 'er up!
    Jim Gordon: Didn't you know I used to drive a roller coaster?
    Woody Jason: Carrying nitro?
    Jim Gordon: Yesss.
    Woody Jason: Were you killed?
    Jim Gordon: Uh-huh.


    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • Another one of the WWII movies that I distinctly remember seeing as a child. Who can forget the front of these fighter planes, with a big toothy tiger appearance? :D

    We notice that Kenneth Gamet, who received writing credits for this film, was also involved in

    Flying Leathernecks (1951)
    Pittsburgh (1942)
    Wake of the Red Witch (1948)

    Chester :newyear:

  • It may be one of John Waynes least discussed movies but its also one of his best war movies.

    This movie when released broke all previous box office records for Republic and it was also the top grossing movie of 1942.

    I think John Wayne give a good performance as the quietly heroic commander of the flying tiger squadron. This movie like all of John Waynes war movies was a little unusual as it shows the nasty side of war with key character etc being killed off. I say unusual because most war movies of the time has super heros performing amazing acts and everybody surviving at the end (except the bad guys).



  • Hi all,
    I like this movie, all parts of it, but really I haven't much to say about it. It is the first war movie of Duke, isn't it? And it opened his great ability for war heroes, man who has natural talant for leadership.

    I don't know much about historical part of this squadron of volonteers in China. May be somebody can help with it?

    And I always thought that there is some common features with Dawn Patrol - movie about WWI flyers, expecially the last mission. Flying Tigers always remin me this film.


  • Frankly, I have hard time telling apart these during and just after WWII movies. They have some curiosity as propaganda films, but without Duke I would find them too boring to watch. As I recall I've liked him in all of them.
    I should really watch Tigers again to have something individual to say about it.

    I don't believe in surrenders.

  • Hi all,
    yesterday I bought here a book by Claire Lee Chennault "Way of a Fighter" - it is memories about real Flying Tigers written by their commanding officer. I haven't read the book yet, but expecting it with great interest.
    Senta :rolleyes:

  • Vera ;

    If you go to the Site Below by His Son, it will tell you all about "Claire Chennault" the leader of the "Real Flying Tigers" that the Film was Based On. :rolleyes:

    I know a little about the Air Force Base that was Named after Him and His Son talks about on His Site , because that was my Home Air Force Base in the early 1950s back when I was Flying B-29s in the Korean War. :)

    Claire Chennault was One Of The Giants of U.S. Aviation History!!! :jump:


    Bill :cowboy:

  • Hi Bill,
    Thank you for the link. he really was a great man. I may be write more after reading his book.

    And you again surprising me by your connections to so many fields.

    Vera :rolleyes:

  • Hi Bill and Vera

    Saw this in out local paper some years ago dated 2001 and thought you might be interested.


    In the late summer and early autumn of 1941 a group of American pilots, largely drawn from the United States armed services, arrived at Keydaw Field, a Royal Airforce station at Toungo, in Burma.
    Their mission was to fight the Japanese, at a time when the US was still at peace. Their presence heralded the birth of Americas active military relationship with the Chinese nationalist.
    Edward Rector who has died of a heart attack aged 84, was among these pilots recruited for a unit who official title was the American volunteer Group (AVG). They soon got another name, the Flying Tigers, and as early as 1942 their flight into mythology had occasioned a John Wayne flag waving movie.
    At a time when the Japanese were sweeping all before them, the 100 strong unit - which never exceeded 70 pilots or more than 49 Curtiss-P40 fighters ready for combat - provided a glimmer of hope for the western allies. In seven months they shot down 296 Japanese aircraft (plus 153 probables);
    Rector, who was credited with the first hit, accounted for 7.5 of them. The group lost four pilots and 12 of its P40s.
    Rector had been a flier on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, based in Norfolk Virginia, when he received an offer to join the AVG. born in Marshall North Carolina he had graduated from Catawba College in Salisbury, NC in 1938 and joined the US Navy.
    A devotee of Rudyard Kipling and tales of Imperial adventure, he saw the AVG as an opportunity to test himself and as he told Military History magazine earlier this year (2001) "be paid a fabulous salary". as it was the pilots got $600 a month, plus $500 for every Japanes plane they brought down.
    The AVG was the brainchild of Colonel Claire Chennault a maverick former USAAF fighter pilot, who had been recruited as areonautical advisor to the Chinese nationalistic leader, Chaing Kai-Shek in 1937 - shortly after the outbreak of the Sino Japanese war. He trained mercenary and Chinese pilots, but they made limited headway against the invaders. The Japanese occupied eastern China and controlled the coast; Mao Zedong's communists were strong in the north, while the nationalists had moved their headquarters to the mountainous south-west. Their overland supply route was The Burma Road. The AVG was to provide air cover.
    The fliers had hardly completed their acclimatisation when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, and precipitated the American involment in the war. One squadron was sent to Rangoon, the other two, including Rectors second pursuit squadron, were deployed in Kunming, in China. On December 20, 14 P40s intercepted 10 raiding Mitsubishi bombers - and shot down nine.
    Shortly afterwards, the China based squadrons were back in Burma. The Japanese advance was accompanied by an intense air battle for Rangoon, which ended in a Japanese victory at the end of February. But the record of the AVG- with support from a small british and australian force flying obsolete planes - was spectacular.
    In the words of General Vinegar Joe stillwall, the US supremo in China, the allies had "got run out of Burma" by April 1942 the japanese had cut the Burma Road leaving 'The Hump, a 500 mile air transport flight around the periphery of the Himalayas from Chabua, in Assam into China. Rows broke out between Chennault and Stillwell. In July 1942 the AVG was disbanded, and few of its veterans remained in China with the US Army Air Force. Rector was one of the pilots to stay on.
    He then commanded the 76th squadron of Chennault's shortlived China Air Task Forrce, which fought on against the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Japanese. Early in 1943, the CATF was replaced by the 14th Air Force, by which time rector had left China. he returned in 1945, and his last aerial victory was that April.
    By the end of the war Rector had accounted for a further three japanese aircraft. later he served in the US MIlitary assistance advisory group which was attempting to shore up Chiang Kai-Shek's corrupt and discredited regime. in 1949 Mao Zedong's communists came to power in Bejuing; the nationalists fled. Chennault set about building what became the CIAs Air America transport outfit, and Rector went to Taiwan, to help the Nationalists build a new air force to confront communisim.
    His decorations included the Legion of Merit and the British DFC for the defence of Rangoon.
    Rector was born September 28th 1916 and died on April 26th 2001



    Walk Tall - Talk Low

  • Now I watched this again, pretty good actually. I had forgotten the film starts before USA joined the WW2. Why was it so big a surprise that Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, be it voluntary air force, but in reality Americans were already fighting against the Japanese. Was it thought they wouldn't dare?

    I don't believe in surrenders.

  • Did you also know that "Flying Tigers" was nominated for three Academy Awards?

    Flying Tigers
    Acadamy nominations

    • MUSIC (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture)

    Not bad for a war flick, eh?:hyper:

    [SIZE=3]"Here's to you Duke, untill we meet again."[/SIZE]

  • Hi folks, sorry I haven't been on for a while, I went on a well deserved holiday (vacation) and when I got back I had a fall as was unable to walk and with my computer being upstairs and me not able to get up them, I couldn't get any work done, but I am on the mend, so here is a film fact for the war film Flying Tigers, I hope you like it.

    Producer: Edmund Grainger, Screenplay: Kenneth Gamet, Barry Trivers, Cinematographer: Jack Marta, Art Director: Russell Kimball, Editor: Jack Murray, Distribution: Ernest Nims, Location: New Mexico, Arizona, Date of production: 1942.

    When his acting career petered out, Bill Shirley (who briefly plays ill-fated pilot Dale) parlayed a good singing voice into a career redubbing the crooning for Hollywood musicals. Not only does he provide the singing voice of the prince in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, it’s his dulcet tones you can hear when “On the street Where you live” starts up in My Fair Lady.
    Howard Lydecker was never Oscar nominated again, but the special effects wiz continued to provide movies with painstakingly created visuals up until his death in 1969. His CV boasted such movies as Doctor Dolittle, The Flight of the Phoenix and Sink the Bismark!.
    The radio announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbour uses the actual recording of President Franklin D. Roosevelt saying the word: “Yesterday, December 7th 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval forces of Japan…”
    Apart from Flying Tigers, composer Victor Young was also nominated for three other films at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1943: Take a letter Darling, For Whom the Bells Tolls and Silver Queen. It was the third time he would be nominated for a total of four films in the same year. He holds the record for the most nominations ever received before winning the award – 21. He was finally given the statuette on his 22nd nomination, for Around the World in 80 Days at the 1957 ceremony, but never lived to pick it up, dying on 10th November 1956.