Hollywood vs. History: Memphis Belle
The Memphis Belle and the men who flew the famed B-17 Flying Fortress became symbols of the heavy bomber crews and support personnel who helped defeat Nazi Germany in World War II. The 1990 film Memphis Belle gives a fictional account of the iconic plane’s 25th and final combat mission.
The characters are composites. But from the details of that suspenseful last raid to military protocol and tactics of the time, how well does the movie otherwise hew to history? Using clips from the film, military historian John Curatola of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College separates fact from Hollywood fiction.
The presentation is part of the Library’s Hollywood vs. History series in partnership with the Command and General Staff College.
Curatola is a professor in the School of Advanced Military Studies at the Army Command and General Staff College. He served almost 22 years in the Marines, retiring as a lieutenant colonel, and holds a doctorate in military history from the University of Kansas. He has spoken three previous times at the Library, including a 2017 discussion of his book Bigger Bombs for a Brighter Tomorrow: The Strategic Air Command and American War Plans at the Dawn of the Atomic Age, 1945-1950.
The Hollywood vs. History series is made possible by a generous gift from the Jerry Rosenblum Trust.