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The Rear Gunner (1943)

Not Rated | | Short, Drama, War | 10 April 1943 (USA)
A young rural enlistee is initially disappointed with his job as an air mechanic, but his great marksmanship skills make him a tail gunner in a bomber.

Director:

Ray Enright

Writer:

Edwin Gilbert
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burgess Meredith ... Pvt. L.A. Pee Wee Williams (as Lieutenant Burgess Meredith)
Ronald Reagan ... Lt. Ames (as Lieutenant Ronald Reagan)
Tom Neal ... Instructor Sergeant
Dane Clark ... Benny (as Bernard Zanville)
Jonathan Hale ... Commanding Officer
Knox Manning ... Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

Documentary-style drama on training of aerial rear gunners in World War II. Private PeeWee Williams, a Kansas farm boy, transforms his home-grown shooting skills into those necessary to an aerial gunner in the tail turret of: an American bomber. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 April 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Broadway Brevities (1942-1943 season) #10: The Rear Gunner See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (shortened)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The bomber featured in the film is a Consolitated B-24 Liberator. Over 18,500 were produced from 1940 to 1945, making it the most numerous American military aircraft ever made. See more »

Goofs

When the B-24 is sent "over there," the map shows that it's headed for the Southwest Pacific Theater, which was composed mostly of tropical islands and a lot of water. The B-24, however, is seen flying over flat, dry land (no water in sight) and when it lands after being shot up, the landscape looks more like Nevada than the Southwest Pacific. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: The gunnery schools are always on the lookout for men short on height but long on ambition.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Warner at War (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

The Army Air Corps Song
Written by Robert Crawford
Sung by a chorus during the opening credits and played often in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great example of how Hollywood helped to win the war
2 June 2005 | by SilentsSee all my reviews

Following Pearl Harbor, Hollywood rushed to turn out films that would help to win the war. They produced more than features. There were countless cartoons and short subjects that were intended to inform the public, boost morale, encourage support of the Red Cross and other organizations that were helping at home and over seas or recruit men into the service. There were also films that were shown only to members of the armed forces. These films either trained them or entertained them.

"Rear Gunner" is one of the best examples of how Hollywood pitched in and worked to boost morale and also recruit men into the service. It has a mission and it does it with pride and a very solid conviction. This film is a real time machine of its era showing the American attitude towards the war. It is also interesting to get a glimpse of just what a rear gunner did and how he learned to do it.

Burgess Meredith was one of the finest and most versatile film actors of the 20th century. Unfortunately most people today know him only for his appearance in the "Grumpy Old Men" films. In "Rear Gunner" he takes a part that is about as standard as they come. There's very little in the words to indicate anything about Pee-Wee's personality. But Meredith takes this shallow part and makes Pee-Wee a real guy. He's quiet and smart without a hint of arrogance, exactly the kind of guy Americans at least claimed to admire then. And Pee-Wee's gentle stutter works well because Meredith soft pedals it thus making it seem real.

"Rear Gunner" allows us to reach through the screen and touch the American mind from WWII. It also happens to be entertaining.


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