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Red Tails is the name used to designate the famous World War II black fighter pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen. Coming to Downieville for Veteran’s Day weekend, on Friday Nov. 9 at 7:00pm, is “Red Tails” the movie, the fictionalized story of these heroic fighter pilots.
Created under pressure from civil rights groups, Congress, and the black press, the Tuskegee Airmen were a 1941 experiment that was supposed to fail. The all black pursuit squadron trained at the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. The pilots became known, as the “Red Tails” after the tails of their planes were painted red for identification purposes. The movie powerfully opens with the words from a 1925 Army War College Study, which concluded that blacks were unsuitable to serve in the military due to their lack of intelligence, ambition, and courage.
The movie shows the Tuskegee Airmen wasting their talents shooting up German freight trains, but then the action shifts and excitement takes over as focus of the movie turns to Italy, during 1944, where the group flies bomber escort missions. Although the true names were not used, anyone knowing the history can infer that Colonel A.J. Bullard, brilliantly played by Terrence Howard, is actually Lt. Col. Benjamin Davis Jr. and Major Emmanuel Stone, played by Cuba Gooding Junior, is Major George “Spanky” Roberts, the commanding officer. The pilots depicted in the movie are played by unknown actors and are a composite of the Tuskegee Airmen.
The strength of the film is what George Lucas, the Executive Producer, does best: the action scenes. These scenes are very realistic and allow viewers to feel they are in the cockpit, fully show the stunning and remarkable achievement of how the Tuskegee Airmen, in Mustang P-51 propeller fighter planes, were able to win the battle with the newly introduced German jets.
This movie is presented by the Sierra County Arts Council, State-Local Partner with the California Arts Council and through a grant from the Bill Graham Foundation.