Derek Winnert


This article was written on 17 Aug 2017, and is filled under Reviews.

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Jet Pilot ** (1957, John Wayne, Janet Leigh, Jay C Flippen) – Classic Movie Review 5931

John Wayne stars as hunky US Air Force Colonel Jim Shannon who loops-the-loop for sexy defecting Soviet flier Lieutenant Anna Marladovna (Janet Leigh). He falls in love with Anna on an assignment to escort her, in plane-mad producer Howard Hughes’s daft 1957 romantic action adventure thriller, packed full of preposterous ideas – the casting of Leigh in this role, for starters.

The twist is that Anna is scheming to lure Jim to the USSR, though Jim has out Shannon has a scheme of his own of course.

Filmed by director Josef von Sternberg in 1949 -1950 but the need for additional aerial stunt work (part of it performed by Chuck Yeager) and other problems (including a long-term delay on approval by the US Air Force, who had fully co-operated on making the movie) stopped its release until 1957.

If it is largely unpersuasive and mostly unedifying, Wayne’s sturdy appearance, the hardware, some interesting Fifties ideas and attitudes, and Winton C Hoch’s Technicolor cinematography make it at least worth a look, and so does its pedigree as a von Sternberg film.

Aviator and RKO studio boss Howard Hughes’s pet film production Jet Pilot started in 1949 and shooting wrapped in February 1950, but it was not finally released until 25 September 1957, also because of Hughes’s endless tinkering with the print. RKO was by then out of the distribution business and the movie was released by Universal-International.

Also in the cast are Jay C Flippen, Paul Fix, Richard Rober, Roland Winters, Hans Conried, Ivan Triessault, Alan Dinehart, Perdita Chandler, Gene Evans, Bill Irwin, Elizabeth Flournoy, Joyce Compston, Paul Frees, Don Haggerty, Harry Lauter, Al Murphy, Denver Pyle, Gene Roth, Mamie Van Doren, Kenneth Tobey, Biff Yeager, Carleton Young, Ruthelma Stevens, Jack Overman, Mike Lally and Gregg Barton.

© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 5931

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