We beat feet from cable for our nightly television viewing about ten years ago – my, how the time flies when you are having fun. We went to various subscription services at a quarter the cost of the monthly cable bill. This came about when we realized that there were only a couple of channels or services provided by cable that we watched regularly; this last weekend, we racked our memories, trying to recall the last American broadcast TV program that we looked forward to and made a point of watching. (Castle, BTW, mostly because of Nathan Fillion … which had its last season in 2016.) We have lavished our screen-watching time ever since then on old, or foreign movies and series, of which there is a rich and entertaining selection – everything from Blackadder, to the original Upstairs, Downstairs (Great Britain), to things like A Place to Call Home, 800 Words and Brokenwood Mysteries (Australia/New Zealand). Currently, the evening watching for us is The Durrells (BBC, and only minimal traces of wokery), while Wee Jamie seems to be fascinated by Alien TV (Australian), Grimmy and the Lemings (Canadian/French) and Masha and the Bear (Russian.)
Last Sunday, I decided to salvage what was an unproductive trip looking for a car part in the San Francisco Bay Area. Rather than go home empty handed, I went to a place that has held my curiosity for a few months.
And then I thought, in the many years Chicago Boys has profiled so many good writers with interesting subjects, I think I can guarantee you that this subject has never been covered.
Jesse Brown, a black man, became a US Navy pilot in 1946. As one might expect at that time, he faced plenty of race-based obstacles in addition to the inherent difficulties involved in becoming a Naval Aviator. Nevertheless, he prevailed, and flew a Corsair piston-engined fighter from the carrier Leyte, in missions to support US ground troops in the Korean War. On one mission, supporting Marines at the battle of Chosin Reservoir as a member of the VF-32 squadron, he was shot down in rugged terrain. His (white) wingman, Thomas Hudner, observed that Brown had not exited the airplane–which was starting to burn–and landed his Corsair near Brown’s wrecked one with the intent of getting Brown out of the plane and waiting with him until a rescue helicopter could (hopefully) be dispatched before Chinese or North Korean troops showed up.
Oh, and by the way, while Leyte was in the Mediterranean, prior to being dispatched to Korea, several of the aviators met actress Elizabeth Taylor while on shore leave.
Definitely sounds like fiction, doesn’t it? But it really happened. While the film indeed took some liberties with the historical truth, the events cited in the above summary are in accord with the factual history.
Race does play a significant role in this movie, of course…since his childhood, Brown had maintained a notebook in which he recorded the various race-based insults he had received over time, especially those telling him all the things he would never have the ability to do. Sometimes he would recite these as a way of giving himself extra inspiration for high performance. But I don’t think the racial angle was overemphasized, given the era and Brown’s apparent actual experiences.
The flying scenes were well-done…real airplanes, not CGI…an actual MiG-15 even made an appearance. (The scene in which a MiG is shot down by a Corsair did not actually happen on this mission, but there was historically an engagement in which a Corsair did manage to shoot down a MiG.) The movie also includes scenes of the ground combat at Chosin Reservoir.
Despite Hudner’s effort, Brown could not be pulled from the wrecked airplane, and died there. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart medal, and the Air Medal. Tom Hudner received the Medal of Honor from President Truman. The frigate Jesse L Brown, FF-1089, was named after Brown in 1973, and an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer was named after Hudner in 2012.
The movie draws on the book Devotion by Adam Makos, which I haven’t read but apparently goes into considerable detail on the Chosin Revenue ground battle as well as the stories of Brown and Hudner and the experiences of other VF-32 members.
Recommended. I thought it was better than Top Gun: Maverick. A little slower, but more sense of realism and character development.
Chicagoboyz haven’t seen the new movie, but who wouldn’t leap to see 60-years-young Tom Cruise reprise his original Tom Cruise-like performance with a supporting cast of stereotypes upgraded for current sensibilities, including the bad guys of the day? (Actually we prefer the Halston biopic on Netflix – despite the gratuitous gay sex scenes, and the decline-and-fall plotting of the final episodes that make it feel a bit like Scarface with lawyers.) In any event the first Hot Shots movie was an entertaining parody that has held up well.
I posted a couple of weeks ago on this blog how distressed I was at the turn that the management of Disney’s corporation had gone of late and having made a personal decision to delete Disney from my range of entertainment interests. Now it seems that Disney management is going full woke and full steam ahead … which, OK, is the choice of corporations to make in their sphere. If management of Disney wants to go all-gay all the time, in catering to a bare 2-3% of the public, it’s their company, their choice. Maybe not a good one, but theirs to make.
Now, what isn’t OK is for a corporation to come out full-throated political in the case of Florida’s law limiting what can be construed as sex ed to the elementary school set; this aimed at kids barely aware that there are differences between boys and girls. Believe me, parents and grandparents feel very strongly that such lessons are wildly inappropriate – to the point of being construed as sexual grooming. Normal parents (and grandparents) will not put up with lesson materiel which is almost guaranteed to damage children, especially as a fair number of elementary school teachers seem prone to overshare regarding their own sexual conduct.