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The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944)


This film is a war documentary produced by one of the "Hollywood Colonels," William Wyler, who joined the Air Force Film unit and recorded the sights and sounds of the last mission of a B-17 bomber known as the Memphis Belle, named after the girlfriend of the pilot. A narrator told the story of the 10 crewmen as examples of simple average American boys doing a tough job. The men and plane were filmed during the bombing raid on the submarine plens in Wilhelmshafen, Germany, "just one mission of just one plane and one crew in one squadron in one group of one wing of one Air Force out of fifteen United States Army Air Forces." It used handheld 16mm and 35mm cameras inside the plane to give the perspective of the crew. Wyler in fact combined footage from several missions to represent this last 25th mission of the plane, a mission that was actually a milk run with no casualties and no difficult landing.

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