In the hierarchy of young actors in Hollywood, where does James Franco stand? Enough to headline a movie, not enough to merit a magazine cover. Yet. Only 28, he's best known as Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movie series. But he's also a Golden Globe winner for playing James Dean in a TV movie. Already this year he has starred in Tristan + Isolde, Annapolis, and Flyboys, which I saw in an advance screening last week.
With his family ranch subject to foreclosure, Rawlings (Franco) leaves Texas and joins the Lafayette Escadrille, a branch of the French military that welcomed American volunteers. (The United States had not yet entered World War I.) With airplanes still a newish invention, these men -- and their villainous German counterparts -- become the first fighter pilots.
The volunteers are a nice parade of character types: the privileged screwup, the military brat who can't shoot straight, the black boxer who left America for a fair shake, the religious marksman, the guy with the shady past. You don't get too attached to the pilots for a reason; a lot of them are going to die in the air. Leading them is the honorable Captain Thenault (Jean Reno) and the gravely serious veteran pilot Cassidy (Martin Henderson).
Rawlings' strangely flexible training schedule allows him to meet and court Lucianne (Jennifer Decker), a local country girl. She knows as much English as he knows French, but it doesn't matter, because this is a movie and the international language of love will suffice. At least the filmmakers had the good sense to cast a French actress in the role; Decker resembles a young Carole Bouquet.
This is a movie that tells you only what you need to know, plotwise, and lets you marvel in the fantastic battle scenes. (Seriously. Not once did the special effects seem fake.) It's difficult these days for Americans to feel patriotic about the French cause, but Flyboys at least makes you cheer for the Allied front.
Story 69 September still finds the skies extremely friendly.
They remembered vividly their flexible adventures in the
Mile High Club, but didn’t see airplane sex as a viable
option now. So they were delighted to see the State Fair
offer hot air balloon rides.
He curved his back along the round wall and allowed her
to bend toward him. They captured the craft’s rhythmic
movement and rode the skies to dual completion.
The balloon operator was noticeably uncomfortable.