Winged Victory (1944)

Genres - Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - War Drama  |   Run Time - 130 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

A fairly obscure wartime picture (due to rights issues which kept it off the small screen and unavailable in home viewing formats for many years), Winged Victory is definitely propaganda, but it's much more palatable than most such efforts. Sure, there's a bit too much of a "gee whiz" to some of the dialogue and attitudes, and some of the speeches invoking Americana will prove dated and perhaps laughable to many modern viewers. But Victory has a sincerity to it that is hard to resist, and if Moss Hart's screenplay (based on his stage play) is manipulative, it also has a more than decent degree of imagination and features Hart's flair for dialogue and detail. George Cukor directs in a documentary style but finds plenty of room for drama; for someone known as a "women's director," he demonstrates a masculine edge here that proves he was more versatile than often acknowledged. The cast is in good form, although Lon McCallister perhaps tries a bit too hard. But it's a treat to see the likes of Red Buttons (in drag), Peter Lind Hayes and Barry Nelson so early in their careers. Edmond O'Brien and Lee J. Cobb are also quite good, but the best performance comes from a very young and affecting Judy Holliday.