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Thunder Birds
Thunder Birds
Actors: Gene Tierney, Preston Foster, John Sutton, Jack Holt, Dame May Whitty
Director: William A. Wellman
Genres: Drama
UR     2006     1hr 18min

Preston Foster gives a ?striking performance,? John Sutton ?is excellent? and Gene Tierney ?is outstanding? (The Hollywood Reporter) in this thrilling, topnotch drama directed by Oscar® winner* William A. Wellman. Highlig...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Gene Tierney, Preston Foster, John Sutton, Jack Holt, Dame May Whitty
Director: William A. Wellman
Creators: Ernest Palmer, Walter Thompson, Lamar Trotti, Darryl F. Zanuck
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Love & Romance, Classics
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 06/06/2006
Original Release Date: 10/19/1942
Theatrical Release Date: 10/19/1942
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 18min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

Flying Under the Radar
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 03/30/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This World War II programmer is distinguished by two lovely elements: its leading lady, Gene Tierney; and some spectacular Technicolor photography. Certainly Tierney and Technicolor were made for each other, and "Thunder Birds" offers the actress' fans a singular opportunity to see what she would have looked like in the classic mystery "Laura" had it been filmed in color. For although Tierney was frequently photographed in Technicolor during the early 1940's ("The Return of Frank James", "Belle Starr", "Heaven Can Wait"), her role in "Thunder Birds" was the first - and only - Technicolor film to feature her in a contemporary setting while wearing her hair in the same style and length as "Laura". (Tierney had changed her hair length and makeup style by 1945 and the classic "Leave Her to Heaven".)

So, you may be asking, is there nothing else to recommend this movie beyond Ms. Tierney and the candybox Technicolor photography? Well, not really. The script, based on a story by "Melville Crossman" (a penname for 20th Century-Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck) is a fairly cliched affair in which a flying instructor (Preston Foster) and one of his students (John Sutton) compete for the affections of a local beauty (Tierney) while training at Thunderbird Air Field in Arizona. And William A. Wellman's direction is fairly lackluster - this is one of the two films he was forced to make at Fox in order to get one of his pet projects - "The Ox-Bow Incident" - financed by Zanuck. The film's cast does include a very young Peter Lawford, but his part is actually little more than an "extra" role.

Despite its relative unimportance in the annals of Hollywood history, "Thunder Birds" nonetheless sports excellent production values, and at 78 minutes long, it's a fast and pleasant diversion. Recommended for fans of the spectacularly beautiful Ms. Tierney; Technicolor enthusiasts; and devotees of aerial films. Others may find it decidedly uninvolving."
Appealing WWII Romance with Beautiful Technicolor Cinematog
"Tee" | LA | 02/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"THUNDER BIRDS is far from a classic but it one of the most visually appealing films you will ever see and is a very pleasant programmer. The movie boasts the most gorgeous Technicolor cinematography from the early 1940's that I can recall and was rarity for a non-period drama, non-musical to be filmed in Technicolor this early. Gorgeous Gene Tierney is an absolute vision but she has competition from the beautiful Arizona scenery, the gorgeous blue skies, and the stunning bright yellow airplanes. This is a "war movie" that never sets foot on the battlefield but centers on the training of enlisted men. British John Sutton is sent to America to be trained to fly for the RAF but he has a intense fear of flying. His instructor Preston Foster is supportive and proves to be a great ally when others want him drummed out but there friendship becomes threatened when Sutton falls for the local girl Gene that Foster has long been lightly courting.

This William Wellman film may not rank with his very best but it's highly watchable and is the sort of pleasant, light drama thats charmingly smooth and plays well in repeat viewing. The DVD print is absolutely gorgeous. The cinematographer Ernest Palmer is the real star here and he is outstanding."
Heather Peebles | St. Louis, MO USA | 10/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First movie I've seen of Gene and Wow she was gorgeous! I'm also a classic airplane lover, and military wife, so this movie was interesting in every way. I would definately recommend it!"
The PT-17 Stearman
T. Michael Banta | Los Angeles, CA | 01/02/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"If you were a cadet in the Army Air Forces in WW II, you will enjoy this film. The story is flimsy but the shots of dozens of Stearmen lined up on the tarmak and the shots of them stunt flying will make up for the story line.
This was the movie that in 1942 made me sign up as an Army Air Force cadet."