Wing and a Prayer (1944)

Genres - Action, Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Combat Films  |   Release Date - Jul 24, 1944 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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A Wing and a Prayer is a good, solid World War II drama that benefits from its rather off-beat focus on the men who had to play "decoys" in the strategy leading up to the Battle of Midway. Soon after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. realized that Japan would likely try to capture Hawaii, and that to do so they would need to first gain hold of Midway Island. The U.S. command launched an elaborate plan to lull the Japanese military into thinking that U.S. forces were spread out across the globe, leading Midway unprotected; in fact, the U.S. forces were in position at Midway, and thus assembled were able to surprise the Japanese forces and keep the island out of Axis hands. Wing is all about an aircraft carrier that has to be one of the decoys, making the enemy think that many, many ships and planes were far away from Midway; part of this called upon the pilots to act like cowards, running away from the enemy rather than engaging them. Wing examines this situation and the manner in which is affects the men involved. While the characters are your typical string of "types" that you find in many films of this sort, they're played very well by the cast. As their leader, Don Ameche is quite good, demonstrating a flair for drama that his many lightweight roles never exploited. Director Henry Hathaway filmed a great deal of actual battle footage which is incorporated into the film; it's not always as smooth as modern day audiences might wish, but it's effective nonetheless. And Hathaway keeps the film moving at a brisk clip, punching the highlights with considerable power.