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Wing and a Prayer (1944)

Wing and a Prayer (1944)

aka Wing and a Prayer


Directed By: 
Written By: 
Details: 97 mins · English


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In the days just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the American people are asking ‘Where is our navy? Why doesn't it fight?’ Gravely weakened by the disaster, the Navy comes up with a plan to trap the Japanese fleet, by using one carrier as several ships to deceive the Japanese Navy into heading for Midway, where a showdown with them will be planned. Meanwhile, on the carrier charged with the mission, Flight commander Bingo Harper (Don Ameche) is in charge of the bomber crews on one of the aircraft carriers that, in fact, shouldered the burden in the desperate early days of the war. He is tough and sticks to the rules, while his young pilots behave more like youngsters and do not always follow his logic.

A new squadron led by Lieutenant Commander Edward Moulton (Dana Andrews) is assigned to the carrier. From the very first landing, Harper notices a careless attitude by ex-Hollywood Academy Award winning star Ensign Hallam ‘Oscar’ Scott (William Eythe). Harper warns Moulton that the squadron’s safety cannot be jeopardized and any repeat of the sloppiness will not be tolerated. Moulton does his best with his men, but he is far from having absolute control. During a bombing run, Ensign Breinard (Harry Morgan) drops a bomb close to the carrier and Harper grounds him. After winning the Navy Cross, for actions at Coral Sea, Ensign Cunningham fails to follow the correct takeoff procedure and ditches his plane into the sea, Harper forbids him to fly again. Later, Cunningham saves the ship in a suicide attack on a torpedo from a Japanese plane.

In the meantime, a message is received from Navy headquarters. The carrier is ordered to travel deep into enemy territory, near the Solomon Islands, and make its presence known in order to deceive the Japanese about American fleet dispositions and intentions. However, they are under strict orders not to fight. When Moulton's bombers encounter some Japanese planes, they follow orders and retreat, but two planes are lost. Not knowing the plan, the pilots are furious. This is repeated several times in other widely-separated locations, driving the aviators to the brink of rebellion. However, the carrier accomplishes its mission: the Japanese believe that the sightings are of different American carriers, not just one.

Finally, the long-prepared trap is sprung. Deceived into believing that the American carriers are scattered across the Pacific, the Japanese are taken by surprise when the American fleet attacks their carriers. Many pilots are lost, but the Americans win a great victory. However, the last bomber, flown by Scott and very low on fuel, has trouble finding the carrier hidden by low clouds. Moulton begs Harper to turn on the searchlights to guide him in, but Harper refuses to risk betraying the carrier's location to any Japanese submarines that may be lurking nearby. Eventually, Scott’s plane is heard crashing into the water when it runs out of fuel. Moulton and Harper quarrel, but in few minutes, it is reported that Scott has been picked up by a destroyer. Harper explains that he cares for all his pilots, but he is willing to sacrifice a few for the success of the mission.