QUESTION: What would be cooler than being a fighter pilot?
Except maybe being a smokejumper. There are no good movies about being a smokejumper -- hey, pipe down about Firestorm! That was not a good movie -- but Top Gun and The Flying Tigers kick tailspinning ass. I know, I know. A little too much shirtless volleyball and Berlin in Top Gun, but when the Navy flyboys are actually on the highway to the danger zone, right into the danger zone, heading into twilight, spreading out their wings tonight-night-night-night, Mav, Goose, Iceman, Slider, and the boys make America proud.
And The Flying Tigers stars John Wayne.
Top Gun (1986)
“You're everyone's problem. That's because every time you go up in the air, you're unsafe. I don't like you because you're dangerous.”
Tom Cruise is a cocky naval aviator, Anthony Edwards, his more responsible navigator. Together they are Maverick and Goose, two officers at the Miramar Naval Air Station vying for the coveted Top Gun award against Val Kilmer, another cocky naval aviator. When Maverick is not feeling the need for speed, requesting permission for flyby or buzzing the tower, he is wooing Charlie (Kelly McGillis), a civilian consultant who happens to be an expert on Russian MiG design. When Maverick’s cockiness results in the death of Goose, Maverick -- and the rest of his Top Gun schoolmates -- begin to question whether he has what it takes to be a Top Gun, but soon enough he redeems himself by rescuing a incapacitated Navy vessel from approaching Soviet fighter pilots. Tony Scott’s two-hour commercial for the Navy features incredible aerial stuntwork courtesy of dogfight choreographer "Rat" Willard.
The Flying Tigers (1942)
“I hope you two had a good time, 'cause Hap just paid the check.”
John Carroll is a cocky Air Force aviator, John Wayne, his more responsible commander. Together they are Woody Jason and Jim Gordon, two pilots in the American Volunteer Group, fighting the Japanese in China in the years before the American entry into WWII. When Woody is not mounting a one-man war against the Japs, he is wooing Brooke (Anna Lee), a Red Cross nurse who happens to be Jim Gordon’s girlfriend. When Woody’s cockiness results in the death of fellow pilot Hap Davis, Woody, and the rest of his AVG squadron, begin to question whether he has what it takes to be a Flying Tiger, but soon enough he redeems himself by dying in battle. David Miller’s two-hour pro-WWII call-to-arms features stunning dogfight scenes courtesy of Republic Picture’s brilliant Lydecker Brothers.