Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
A colorless aerial combat movie that plays like a television show, Mosquito Squadron is a
hackneyed combo of The Dam Busters and The Great Escape. In this case one of them
is presumed dead, so the remaining flier
is free to romance his widow ... the same triangle that's been repeated in 4 out of 5 shows about
pilots and their women since 1918. Naturally, the 'dead' pilot turns out to be alive and kicking.
Squadron Leader David Scott (David Buck) is shot down and presumed killed while
bombing V-1 launchers over France. His best friend Quint Munroe (David McCallum) takes over the
Squadron and gets to know David's widow, Mrs. Beth Scott (Suzanne Neve) better. Air Commodore
Hufford (Charles Gray) assigns Quint's group to attack
a chateau supposedly being used to develop a V-3 or V-4 super-rocket. The men are eager to
go on the dangerous mission, until the Germans drop a film on their base during an air raid.
The film shows captured R.A.F. aircrews being held prisoner right on the site - including David
Scott, the husband of the woman Quint is romancing!
More of a fast deal than a movie, Mosquito Squadron bundles washed-up TV star / wasted
quality actor David McCallum with a trite script and some inadequate production values for a foolish
retread of aviation clichés. Everyone from the director on down seems to be going through
the motions, especially McCallum, who responds to every over-stated plot turn by refusing to
change his facial expression. With the exception of Charles Gray, McCallum is the only name on
The best trouping comes from Suzanne Neve, who scored in British TV hits Dracula (1968; as Mina) and
The Year of the Sex Olympics (1968; by Nigel Kneale) but didn't do much more than this film
and 1970's Scrooge. She's somewhat remindful of Juliet Mills, and makes the best of scripting
that requires her to make lovey-eyes at McCallum right after she's lost her husband. Boris Sagal's
which always focuses on the obvious with zooms and meaningful cutaways, is no help.
This is the kind of WW2 action movie where the commanders confide all their stragegy secrets to
anyone who will listen, where captured German film is screened for more than just intelligence
people, and officers question their orders while suggesting lame alternate battle plans based
on their emotional
responses. McCallum's squadron also feels entitled to apply standards of fairness and morality to
their missions. It's pretty dreadful, as naive as what one would expect to find in a children's
film, or a silent aviation melodrama.
The show appears to use some real test footage of Mosquito planes dropping pill-shaped 'bouncing bombs' on
land, the same way that Avro Lancaster bombers dropped bouncing bombs on water to rupture strategic dams.
Besides that, there are some shots of real Mosquito planes on the ground, but much of the flying
footage seems to be recycled from 1964's 633 Squadron. 1
Even more shocking is the opening - an entire, easily-spotted three minutes from 1965's Operation
Crossbow is spliced in practically un-altered for a pre-credits sequence. Maybe the film came up
short, and the sequence was needed to pad it out.
Les Bowie's effects depicting a chateau being blown up are okay, but other moments are
badly muffed. One miniature plane crash happens in front of a photo blow-up, and immediately betrays
itself when the plane throws a big, inescapable shadow on the fake backdrop. It's an embarassment, the
kind of thing done by a pro like Bowie only when he's given elaborate shots to do, with zero funding.
The big finale is one of those unlikely events that crop up in films of this kind: the planes
attack their tunnel objective, holding a bomb in reserve to blow up a prison wall so that a horde
of French resistance fighters can free the imprisoned fliers, who have already taken over the
prison chapel, etc. It's all blocked, filmed and acted in fine TV-movie non-style. Could this have
been a TV movie that got promoted to the screen? It's rated G, was completed in 1968 and released
MGM's DVD of Mosquito Squadron is nicely transferred and encoded and looks very colorful,
no matter how foolish things get. It's not been given 16:9 enhancement, even though it's in color and
from 1968, again proving that there are no consistent criteria for DVD formats at MGM. An
okay trailer (recycling mucho stock footage, getting grainier by the minute) is the only extra.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
Mosquito Squadron rates:
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: May 29, 2003
1. I chose this title
to review because I've already seen 633 Squadron, which was actually harder to sit through.
Cliff Robertson and George Chakiris are also Mosquito pilots with romantic problems, and
endure a script just as silly as this one, with lots of terrible special miniature effects. It
came out on DVD on May 20 alongside this retread.
DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson