Best viewed on IE

Aerial Gunner

Aerial Gunner is a 1943 American World War II film directed by William H. Pine and starring Chester Morris, Richard Arlen and Jimmy Lydon.


Policeman Jon Davis (Richard Arlen) informs "Foxy" Pattis (Chester Morris) at his shooting gallery, that his criminal father has died. Foxy blames all policemen, feeling they harassed him all his life and were responsible for his death. John Davis enlists and "Foxy" Pattis is drafted into the United States Army Air Forces where Foxy becomes the instructor at an aerial gunnery school. He makes life miserable for Jon, now a "Flying Sergeant" student, trying to force the former policeman to resign.

Despite Foxy's hostility, Jon is able to pass the course. He later befriends a young Texas boy, Sandy (Jimmy Lydon), whose father was an airman killed at Hickam Field during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Sandy invites Jon and Foxy to his family's ranch, where both men fall for Sandy's sister Peggy (Amelita Ward).

After graduation, Jon is commissioned as a Lieutenant and is assigned as a pilot of a light bomber, with many of his classmates now his crew. A belligerent Foxy serves as his gunner and is not accepted as a team player by the others. During a bombing mission against the Japanese, however, he makes the ultimate sacrifice in trying to protect the other crew members when the bomber is shot down behind enemy lines.


Chester Morris as T/Sgt. "Foxy" Pattis

Richard Arlen as T/Sgt, later Lt., Jonathan "Jon" Davis

Jimmy Lydon as Pvt. Sanford "Sandy" Lunt

Amelita Ward as Peggy Lunt (credited as Lita Ward)

Dick Purcell as Pvt. Lancelot "Gadget" Blaine

Keith Richards as Sgt. Henry "Jonesy" Jones

William 'Billy' Benedict as Pvt. Jackson "Sleepy" Laswell

Olive Blakeney as Mrs. Sanford Lunt

Robert Mitchum as S/Sgt Benson (uncredited)


Directed by William H. Pine

Produced by William H. Pine - William C. Thomas

Written by Jack F. Dailey - Maxwell Shane

Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof

Cinematography: Fred Jackman Jr.

Edited by William H. Ziegler

Production company: Paramount Pictures

Distributed by Paramount Pictures

Release date: March 20, 1943

Running time: 78 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English


Principal photography for Aerial Gunner by the Paramount Pictures Pine-Thomas Productions unit took place over a period from October 21–mid-November 1942. Location work at the air gunner training school at Harlingen Air Force Base, Texas. Many of the real AAF trainees there appear in the film as extras.

With the assistance of the USAAF, aerial scenes featured North American T-6 Texan and Beech AT-11 Kansan trainers at Harlingen Air Force Base, and Lockheed B-34 Lexington bombers. The use of operational aircraft lent an air of authenticity to the low-budget B film feature, although a number of ground scenes that were later added, which had to rely on studio rear projection work, looked amateurish.


Aerial Gunner had its world premiere at Harlingen Air Force Base, where much of the film is set. Other premieres at major cities followed.

The critical reception was mixed, with Kate Cameron of The New York Daily News describing the film as the "most ambitious picture" that Paramount producers William Pine and William Thomas had turned out. Bosley Crowther completely disagreed in his review for The New York Times; he dismissed the effort as nothing more than "... heroics for the bumpkins in one-syllable clichés. There are a few interesting sequences in it of training at an aerial gunnery school and some routine, but always pretty pictures of planes climbing up and setting down. But never do they rise above the ceiling prescribed by a normal B-film. This is strictly a picture for the shooting-gallery trade."

run time: 78 minutes

Under Section 107 of The Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

above notes from
poster image: same
movie: DAV FL 70 Webmaster private collection

back to movie selections