1941-1950DramaHenry KingUSAWar

Henry King – A Yank in the R.A.F. (1941)

Tyrone Power pursues Betty Grable and becomes A YANK IN THE R.A.F., in this romantic drama set in the early days of WWII. For smooth-talking daredevil pilot Tim Baker (Power), flying is a game and the war is simply an opportunity to make some quick money. When a high-paying job ferrying bombers across the Atlantic lands him in London, he runs into Carol (Grable), an old flame, and joins the R.A.F. just to be near her. But problems arise when Carol is pursued by another pilot (John Sutton), who treats her better and happens to be Baker’s superior officer! When both men start flying bombing missions over Europe, Carol finds that choosing between them is suprisingly hard, and Baker learns that not everyone takes life as lightly as he does.

Tyrone Power is the quintessential American abroad, a brash, smart-talking flyboy with a roving eye and a mercenary heart–in other words, a part made for him. “I know, I’m a worm,” he smiles as he plants a kiss on Betty Grable, the American showgirl who can’t seem to stay mad at the charming cad who enlists in the RAF just to impress her. The marvelous special-effects model work delivers two excellent airborne sequences (a harrowing bombing run over Germany and a swarming dogfight over the evacuation of Dunkirk), but as military melodrama it’s ultimately pure Hollywood fluff and only halfhearted propaganda. A Yank in the RAF is less about the war in Europe than about Power’s rakish grin and future GI pin-up Grable’s oft-displayed legs, and they display their charms for all they’re worth. –Sean Axmaker

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