Mania Grade: A
1 Comment | Add
Rate & Share:
- Rated: PG-13
- Starring: Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Tate Donovan, D.B. Sweeney, Billy Zane, Sean Astin, Harry Connick Jr., Reed Diamond, Courtney Gains, Neil Giuntoli
- Written By: Monte Merrick
- Directed By: Michael Caton-Jones
- Distributor: Warner Brothers
- Original Year of Release: 1990
- Special Features: See Below
Memphis Belle: Blu-ray Review
First time on Blu-ray
By Robert T. Trate
May 24, 2014
Memphis Belle (1990)
© Warner Bros.
One of the true film classics of the 1990’s is Memphis Belle, a World War 2 picture that fictionalized the final flight of the crew of the famous B-17 Bomber. It doesn’t take much to realize that the drama of Hollywood and telling a good story is evident here (learn about the real history here). However, when I was 15 years old, I believed every word of this film. The film sets itself apart from the John Wayne heroic WW2 tales of yesteryear. This is a crew of young of men, who weren’t much older than I was then. In going back and watching the film nearly a quarter of a century later, I realized how young they really were. I now sit as an older man watching the film that both fascinated me and opened the door to a great piece of history.
The story of the Memphis Belle, the film, finds Matthew Modine in charge of a B-17 crew on the eve of their last mission. As Hollywood would have it, anything and everything goes wrong on that mission. The hell these men went through on a daily basis is acted out here in front of us in less than two hours. We are given so much in such a little time, yet all the points come across brilliantly. Their duty is to do the right thing, despite how easy it would be to bomb close enough to the target to hit the mark. We have the comradery of the only the person you can count is the man standing next to you. We even have the commanding officer, David Strathairn, who bares the weight of sending all these men to their fate. What really stood out for me is how quickly writer, Monte Merrick, and director, Michael Canton-Jones, introduce you to these cookie cutter stereotypes. Yet, you love each and every one of them because you knew someone just like that.
The film itself, despite being a now nineties relic, visually holds up. What isn’t surprising is that Blu-ray transfer points out every blue screen and rear projection. Despite that easily recognizable fault, the use of 5 actual planes from that era help sell the story. There is a grandeur to their take off and a fear in their landings. When you see this very real plane, with all its old world technology, you really do begin to marvel at what so many put their faith into for the greater good.
This cast of actors was incredibly well known at the time. The fun part in watching it now is seeing how different their careers became after Memphis Belle. Sean Astin went from the kid in Goonies to a Hobbit on a mission. Matthew Modine was Joker in Full Metal Jacket and then ventured on to a series of forgettable movies until recently, The Dark Knight Rises. Harry Connick Jr. became a true entertainer and found success as both a singer and an actor. Courtney Gains pretty much stayed right where he started, supporting player. There is even a quick bit part of a man who would get lost on the other side of a worm hole, Ben Browder, on Farscape.
For what the Memphis Belle captures, it is a great film. The believability of it, however, is easily tempered with the turn of a few pages in a history book. Do I believe the hell these young men went through over the skies of Europe? Yes. Do I think that much happened to every flight crew and every mission? No. Do I love this movie for the great piece of cinema it is and thank it for educating me about history. Hell, yes.
Get Memphis Belle on Blu-ray for the first time HERE! Follow Mania on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest genre news and reviews.