Oh, Lord, another Korean War movie. I wonder if it will suck like most of them. What is a battle taxi? Is this movie about the First Battle of the Marne? I guess I will find out. There’s the stirring music, it's go time! Two technical advisers and cooperation from the Pentagon and the Air Force. Seems like overkill for a movie like this. G.I.s are humping and there is footage of the Chicoms chasing them. Capt. Edwards (Sterling Hayden) literally pushes the panic button when word comes of a wounded soldier. Rendezvous at Long Dong – that's what she said. Edwards: “Remember, you’re flying a helicopter, not a jet.” (I wish he had said that to the person who did the movie poster.) That means no hot dogging! Aerial view of a MASH unit. P-51 fighter escort which turn into jets but retain the prop noises and then we are back to P-51s. Nobody will notice. When a patrol is attacked by a tank, Lt. Stacey (Arthur Franz) buzzes the tank and then fires flares at it. Stacey is having trouble remembering he is not a fighter pilot any more. F-86s arrive and use napalm and rockets on the tank. Edwards is angry that the chopper has some holes in it. Stacey was a fighter pilot – choppers are beneath him. I wonder if he will learn to respect his job. Edwards will make an Air Rescue pilot out of him if it kills him. Edwards takes a bird up for a spin. They reverse the film so it looks like he can fly backwards. The old man still has his stuff. Edwards brings Stacey along to brief Stacey’s former squadron mates – boy, is that harsh! Edwards shows a film of silly early helicopters and then actual footage of rescues. Is there going to be a quiz? Stacey is assigned to an island base behind enemy lines. The big push is coming. Montage of preparation. Excellent footage of bombings including gun camera strafing. Some WWII shoot downs. I’m sure no one will notice. When a pilot lands in the water, Stacey disobeys orders to go after him. They land and refuel from a truck – not a fuel truck, I mean siphoning. When an enemy tank approaches, they take off without a close call. Boring! On the next mission, they chopper into an obvious trap. They are shot down, but Edwards rides to the rescue. Stacey is wounded and Edwards acts as a sitting duck while a doctor works on Stacey. A fighter takes out two enemy hiding in the bushes – great shooting! Next scene has Stacey briefing the jocks, but this time he is proud to be in Air Rescue. He taunts the fighter jocks by pointing out that he can fly into battle bare-headed! (See the poster)
|a battle taxi|
“Battle Taxi” was better than expected. There is a lot of footage and it is fairly well blended. There are some flubs if you are an asshole like me and look for stuff like that. The acting is pretty good from a nice cast. Franz is a B movie actor, but Hayden and Thompson were pretty big stars. The dialogue is pretty good. I was prepared to wince, but didn’t. The action is not pulpy and there is a lack of suspense in some scenes that should have had it. I guess that is fine, if unexpected. Air Rescue deserved a movie. Where would those glory hound doctors be without their patients? This movie is a good companion to “Battle Circus”. In war movie Heaven, they show them back to back at the celestial drive-in movie theater. Surprisingly, Taxi is the better movie.
GRADE = C