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Captains Of The Clouds Blu-ray Review

“Captains Of The Clouds” has a character problem.

1942’s “Captains Of The Clouds” is a WWII drama, a propaganda war movie, and a tribute to the Royal Canadian Air Force all rolled into one. The story revolves around a Canadian bush pilot (Brian MacLean) who is a fast talking flier who cuts into other pilot’s business. Brian considers working with the other pilots for a future business, but that doesn’t quite pan out. As WWII lingers on, Brian and the other pilots decide to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), but are all too old to fight. Instead, they are all assigned to be flight instructors. What happens next? That would be telling.

Despite being directed by the ever versatile Michael Curtiz, “Captains Of The Clouds” never soars. A film dedicated to the RCAF that also explores Canadian bush pilots sounds promising on paper, but the script by Arthur T. Horman, Richard Macaulay, and Norman Reilly Rane undercuts the intriguing elements with a deeply problematic lead character. Brian MacLean is a terrible human being. He marries a friend’s girlfriend to allegedly stop her from ruining his dreams, he essentially steals other people’s jobs, he risks the life of a recruit, his antics get a friend killed and his big redemptive moment in the end involves him impersonating someone else. And that’s just for starters. Why you would create such a heinous character for a wartime drama is beyond me, but that’s the decision that was made here. Equally sickening here is the utter mistreatment of Emily’s character whose entire character exists to be a homewrecker basically. It’s beyond sexist.

Even though Brian is an unlikable character, James Cagney is great as always in the role. The supporting cast is solid too especially when it comes to Alan Hale, Dennis Morgan, and George Tobias. 

The most noteworthy aspect of ‘Captains’ is by far the cinematography by Wilfrid M. Cline and Sol Polito which features lush color location shooting, real plane footage, and decent model work for the time.

“Captains Of The Clouds” is available from the Warner Archive Amazon Store and other online home video retailers.


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? Once again, Warner Archive knocks it out of the park with another crisp colorful print.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? This is an impressive 2.0 that really comes alive whenever planes are on screen.

Extras include a 1942 newsreel, 2 cartoons (“What’s Cookin’ Doc?” and “Hold The Lion, Please,” a “Captains Of The Clouds” theatrical trailer and a short film titled “Rocky Mountain Big Game.”


March 18, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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