-A bomber en-route to Honolulu gets pulled into the war when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor the morning of their arrival in Howard Hawks' absorbing WWII flyer Air Force, which, like Mervyn's LeRoy's Twenty Seconds Over Tokyo, makes excellent use of its confined space to let its characters breathe.
Bookended by jingoistic, rah-rah sentiment (including a quote from Abraham Lincoln), the film can be excused from other products of shameless propaganda simply because it's too honest and too well-made.
The B-17 bomber, the Mary-Ann, is piloted by "Irish" Quincannon (John Ridgely) and Bill William (Gig Young) with a colorful supporting cast (or crew) including Harry Carry, George Tobias and John Garfield, as a cynical insubordinate who has his eyes set on leaving the Army in three weeks - hardly an emblem of patriotism.
And like most of Hawks' films, his mournful-but-sober take on death is truly felt, as it was in the masterful Only Angels Have Wings ('39). Air Force never attains true top-level status in the Hollywood mater's oeuvre, but as an action film produced during wartime, it's passionate, patriotic filmmaking without being ignorant. [B]