Yuk, not “Top Gun” (“Top Gun” takes top honors, but is it really the greatest aviation movie of all time? May 18 issue).
Here’s my list of flying films that often get overlooked in top 10 lists; some have nutritional value, some are amazing only because they are in color, and some have pretty interesting hardware in them.
1. “Dark Blue World” (2001), a Czech film about Czech pilots in the RAF. Real and CG Spitfires seamlessly blended together. Also, a non-gushy love story.
2. “The Right Stuff” (1983)
3. “Only Angels Have Wings” (1939), Cary Grant and Jean Arthur bush piloting in South America. “Calling Barancha, the fog is lifting.”
4. “Dive Bomber” (1941), Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray. Color film about Navy pilots shot in San Diego during the high water-mark of yellow wings and colorful markings.
5. “Test Pilot” (1939), Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy test the B-17A.
6. “The War Lover” (1962), Steve McQueen and Robert Wagner fly with the Mighty 8th Air Force.
7. “Captains of the Clouds” (1940), Jimmy Cagney as a bush pilot in the RAF — in color.
8. “The Aviator” (2005), Leo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes is a stretch, but the rest of the film looked nice.
9. “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” (1944)
10. “The Blue Max” (1966)
All things considered, we will watch a lot of bad movies if there are good-looking airplanes in them.