Reel American HistoryHistory on trial Main Page

AboutFilmsFor StudentsFor TeachersBibliographyResources

Films >> Red Tails (2012) >>

The Tuskegee Airmen. Dir. Robert Markowitz. Perf. Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr. HBO Home Video, [1995] 2000. DVD.
Before George Lucas's Red Tails, The Tuskegee Airmen existed as the only full-length feature film depicting the African American airmen of Tuskegee. Though this Robert Markowitz film never made it to the silver screen, it trumps the recent George Lucas film for a number of reasons. The main critique of Red Tails, and it is a serious one, is that it lacks substance. The great cinematic value of Red Tails lies in the flashy scenes of aerial combat and the moments of comic exchange in the dialogue, but its depth travels no further. Red Tails lacks the story of the Tuskegee airmen's experiences while training and the very real deaths and tragedies that accompanied their history. The film also lacks the clear identification of who's who as far as historic airmen. Not only does the HBO film depict the experience of the African American pilots from the start of the program to the end of the war, but it also depicts such figures of importance as Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Jr. and such important moments as the flight of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt with Chief Charles Alfred Anderson that ensured the program's longevity. Though Red Tails is a film not lacking the blood and gore of a war picture, it almost lacks the same ability to evoke the same emotion from this imagery as the HBO picture manages to do. This film covers all the holes and absences within Red Tails that critics complained about, and had technology for rendering better graphics been as advanced in 1995 when the TV film aired, the need for a film like Red Tails would have been lessened. But, as such, this film makes a great complement to Red Tails. Together they tell more of the whole story.

See Also

Black Brigade (1970)

The Buffalo Soldiers (1997)

Flyboys (2006)

Flying Leathernecks (1951)

Glory (1989)

Hart's War (2002)

Miracle At St. Anna (2008)

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

A Soldier's Story (1984)

Star Wars (1977)

Top Gun (1986)

Wings (1927)