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Those seeking a normal, sensible, secure life need not apply.
on 12 April 2015
An emotional steam cooker without let let up. Stack, Malone and Jack Carson are fit to bust from moment to moment intensity. I'm emotionally exhausted each time I watch them because their intensity is always full throttle and contagious. There's no place for anyone to hide!
After Roger's air crash death, Jiggs absents himself from the commemoration party and chooses to sit all by himself, well removed from the others. He can't imagine himself in a normal, flaccid, routine life. He can't imagine adjusting to normality. "Where the hell are you Roger?" to no one at all. [In desperation he repeats: Where the hell are you???"]. Without Roger's mania to hold them together, listlessness is set to drown the remaining team in futility. Though it's rather muted in the film, the time is 1924 and combat ace Roger Schumann who shot down nine German fighters needs to reinvoke the dangers of WW1 air combat in the skies of France. He needs the threat of death to find a justification for living. Thus his desperare addiction to barnstorming. Malone and Carson are swept up in his deadly mania and live at his compulsive, fevered pitch, too.
In the final scene, Hudson holds forth poetically on Stack trying to leave the clutches of a safe, boring life and challenge daily death instead.
The prize money, as Malone, says is "bird seed". And as the WW1 pilot hero observes, "We've slept in the best hotels and worst hangers, so don't go feeling sorry for us." These are desperate people, otherwise normal, who build their lives around seeking out brushes with death and think of nothing else. An odd, precious gem.