Anyway, "Belle" is based on the true story of a B-17 bomber and its crew who successfully completed 25 missions during World War II. After their final mission, the crew was brought home to the States as heroes and (most) spent the remainder of the war selling bonds. The real-life Memphis Belle was recovered from a scrap yard in 1946 and, after years of being a mainstay near the city it is named for, is currently undergoing restoration.
The film follows the crew as they prepare for and subsequently go on what will be their last bombing run. Each of the 10 crew members is extremely well cast. Sean Astin (pre-"Rudy"), Matthew Modine, Harry Connick, Jr., D.B. Sweeney, and Billy Zane (pre-"Titanic") all play their parts to a tee. Perhaps the biggest star at the time, Eric Stoltz, shows here why he was considered to be a contender for The Next Big Thing. His portrayal of Sgt. Danny Daly brings depth and poignancy to the film. David Strathairn and John Lithgow, respectively, play the crew's commanding officer and the Army PR guy brought in to sell them to the American public. No one involved is a true movie superstar of any sort but all together they make a strong, competent team.
It's been a while since I had watched this movie and I was quickly reminded of why it works. There are really only 12 characters in the whole movie but each of them is, for lack of a better term, incredibly HUMAN. John Lithgow is a little out there but the rest of these guys seem like your next door neighbors. And that's why "Belle" works where other war-era movies fail. It's not just that you root for the characters, it's that you BELIEVE in the characters and you feel like you know them. During the action sequences, which are spliced together with real footage from WWII dogfights, you get tense and you care about the boys in the plane. Aside from "Saving Private Ryan," (which is like the Michael Jordan of modern war movies) I feel comfortable calling "Belle" one of, if not the, best. A+.
Best character: Eric Stoltz, Danny Daly
Connick (in his first film role) and Astin are both excellent as well.
Best scene: The Letter Reading scene
Straithairn drags Lithgow into his office and forces him to read some of the letter he has received from those who've had a loved under his command die. The words are spoken over real dogfight shots, making a very powerful and sobering impact.
McVey - "Has anyone seen my St. Anthony's medal?"
Daly - "Isn't he the Patron Saint of lost things?"
McVey - "Ya I can't find it."
(For all it's merits, "Belle" is not exactly a quotable movie.)
There needs to be a Blu-Ray version of this soon,
"Memphis Belle" through Lindsey's eyes:
So I'm writing the review for this WAY later. We watched this a couple of weeks ago and I'm the worst wife ever. I've been totally bringing this project down with my busy work schedule. I love how I read his review and thought, "This was the first movie we watched on our new TV?" That right there, shows how much movies mean to Brian and not so much to me. Brian helps me stay aware of the movie world.
I have mixed feelings about this movie. I definitely appreciate it and I understand why people like it, but I was soooo incredibly stressed out the whole time. In a movie like that, I need to know what happens. I was too drawn into the characters that I just couldn't enjoy the movie because I was afraid of death. Gosh, I'm nervous in my heart just thinking back on that evening.
When I wasn't stressed out, I was trying to figure out where I had seen all the characters before. Goodness, there were a lot of familiar faces. While watching the movie, I inserted lines in my head from their past movies. "The Cutting Edge" guy yelled out "Toe Pick!" occasionally throughout the flight. Then the nerd from "Can't Buy Me Love" yelled out "Look, it's the African Ant Eater Ritual!" as they flew over their target. I've got to keep myself entertained when my mind wanders.
I would definitely recommend this movie and MAYBE I would like it more the second time, now that I know what I'm getting myself into.
"The Cutting Edge" may replace "Rockin with Judy Jetson" on my list,